January 29, 2008


I am off work ill again today. Everything around here is just quiet, quiet, quiet. The silence is only punctuated by the sound of my own coughing and the tyres of the cars on the street below on the wet, cobbled street. Even though I am tired and ill, being at home also seems to bring with it a constant feeling of guilt, like you should be at work no matter what. Why is that?

For my sins, I have been doing nothing but drinking lemsip and watching 'Damages', which I have already finished. I am still in my pyjamas from when I woke up and I feel a litte dazed, some of which comes from the sheer annoyance the being ill provokes. It does seem like I have not been healthy since before Christmas and it has constantly been one cough or cold after another.

Moaning over and done with, there is something lovely about the silence. I'm not thinking too much, but am letting my mind wander. I'm facing the very real possibility of staying in Budapest for another year with very little fanfare in the end. It seemed like a natural progression, while long time blog readers will know that I always seem to be looking over my shoulder for the next big thing. Not this time, more Budapest to follow, only next winter with a flu jab first.

January 28, 2008

Pinky and Perky

I seem to be a little more energetuc these last few days and I know that it is due to the fact that the sun has come out a little again. Driving to school over Margit Hid has become a little bit more joyful as we all enjoy the sun rising over the Danube and creating waves of orange and pink in the sky.

I have been blogging for so long now that I realised there are many documented posts of my winter blues, there was one here, when I was in Warsaw for the second time. It is not a new thing for me, feeling that Winter is something that should be 'survived', I suppose that being in a new city, new apartment and a new job only serves to heighten any such feelings. Maybe I am finally coming out the other side.

Monday morning is nearly over and I have reports to write this week. I am not worried and find that I am excited about being half way towards half term. I have booked a flight to Warsaw and can't wait to see the little baby and spend time with K and N. I don't miss Poland nearly as mcuh now that I am back in Eastern Europe, but I often think of them.

January 26, 2008

For the sake of my name

When she was younger my Mum lived and worked in Chicago for a while. She was a nanny for an American family that she was very fond of and who in return, adored her. Many years later when I was in my twenties a whole page article appeared in a Bradford paper as the family was trying to trace her. Happy reuinions later and my namesakebrought her husband to visit and my Mum even went back to Chicago to see all her friends and the family she had cared for. It is one part of my Mothers life that I admire greatly and I feel connected to the family through her, especially Anne, who I was named after.

Anne is in Costa Rica at the moment and is doing an amazing job caring for turtles. I am loving her blog, which is making me highly jealous as South America is very much on my travel hit list. I think that it is much cheaper to visit from the states than from Europe, but I plan on getting there one day. I talked to her today (Skype is a wonderful thing!) and hope that I will get to see her again soon, but for now, being connected for a few moments whilst thousands of miles away is pretty cool. It makes me feel so much fondness for my Mum and for my namesake.

January 25, 2008

January 24, 2008

32 yesterday

My birthday passed by in a flash. I got lots of cards and presents from people at work and emails and parcels from those at home.I am in my office looking at the row of cards including a handmade one from a student and lovely Hungarian ones that have taught me how to say Happy Birthday (Boldog születésnapot).

When school finished I went straight to my Indian Supermarket with C to buy all the things to make two curries. I was in charge of vegetarian so I made spinach and sweet potato curry and a channa daal. They were both delicious, nicely bubbled away for a good hour or so, as we all know that curries are best when whacked in the pot and left to steep. I managed to hoik them all round to C2s place in my shopping basket along with a load of paratha.

As it was a school night, we sat for a few hours, chatted and ate Indian food, lounged and complained that we were tired and generally relaxed ane enjoyed being out of our apartments during the week. I live really close to C2, and so I only had a two and a half minute walk home. I fell into bed exhausted and happy. Tired today, but it was worth it.

January 22, 2008

Happy birthday to me

I am not really a huge fan of birthdays and I don't know why. Some years have passed with more fanfare than others, but being abroad seems to heighten the fact that people who would normally make a fuss of me are not around to do so. Over the last 5 years I have had birthdays in Warsaw, Paris, Richmond and tomorrow I will have one in Budapest too. It should all be lovely, C is throwing a little party for me, and it will be full of people that I like very much.

Yet birthdays make me think that time is slipping through my fingers. Birthdays bother me in a way that New Year doesn't and I just do not like adding that extra digit to my age, (32 if anyone is asking). Presents are lovely, and so is the fuss that people make of you, but birthdays are not like they were when you were little, the excitement no longer consumes you in the way that it did. My birthday comes at the darkest time of year. After the holidays everyone is skint and I am usually more pensieve than partying.

All this morose wondering is not good for the soul though and the final thought is that I get to spend my birthday in a new city. I will be with friends, there are gifts to be opened and cake to be eaten. In the end I think I will worry about the numbers next year.


I am starting to learn more about the place where I live. I really enjoyed my weekend, full of new places. I loved walking the streets and finding that the houses, Synagogues and cafes that I had kept reading about were all around the corner. D has lived here for many years and has a husband who is Hungarian and it was like having my own little tour guide to take me round our area.

One thing that I found out was how much the Jewish area has changed. Markets that had stood for decades just no longer exist any more. Interlinking courtyards that were used as a secret passage way in the war has been slicked up ready for yuppies to move into and exclusive stores to set up shop. I am at the beginning of getting a sense of Budapests history and I am loving the district where I live.

January 20, 2008

Elizabeth Town

Here are a few pictures from my Sunday wander with, D, baby E, and C around the Erszebetvaros, which is the ditrict where we all live.

Rumbach Synagogue, still being renovated, this building is beautiful. Go and visit if you are in Budapest and give them the 500 forint entrance fee so that the renovations can continue.

Monument to Carl Lutz, who saved thouands of Jewish lives during the Holocaust.

Kiraly Utca

January 19, 2008

The land of real people

Sick to the back teeth of giving in to my own selfish desires for quiet, pyjamas and DVDs in my apartment I decided that this was the weekend to join the land of the living again. After my brilliant Hungarian lesson on Friday after school I went home only to get changed before going out to Pirro, a new Indian restaurant near the Basilica. L, Ls, K and C were there and we had a very pleasant evening talking a about all sorts of random things. One of the topics of discussion was the etiquette of car driving in a Chang Mai zoo, but that is what happens when you hang out with people who have lived all over the world.

Today I woke up late, got dressed and met B for a trip to Ikea at Ors Veser Ter. I bought a beautiful, massive screen of Klimts 'The Kiss', which is making my living room glow with love and romance. I also bought lots of little baskets to take care of my storage issues and lingonberry sauce to go with the frozen meatballs I love to get when I go there. It was not nearly as hellish as Ikea can be on a Saturday and I was glad for the company, B is one of the people that I liked immediately when I arrived at the school in August last year. She is shown above in a photo from our trip to Madrid.

After I got home and she helped me to hang my new screen, we had tea and cakes. Swapping over almost within a couple of minutes, D arrived with baby E, as she lives about a hundred metres from my apartment and has not been around to look at the flat yet. E is adorable and loved trying to chew my russian dolls, which make lovely clip clop noises when you bang them together. Soon after C popped round to pinch some DVDs, by which time I was all up to the gills with tea, but we made some plans for Budapest exploring in the next couple of weeks, which makes me very happy indeed.

Alone again now, but with big plans for walks on the Island tomorrow amd lunch, it has been nice to open my eyes to the world outside my dreams and ponderings.

January 17, 2008

Play on

I am hesitant to confess how unspeakably early I go to bed on work nights. Especially in the winter when the darkness reaaly seems to overwhelm me, I just cant get enough sleep and get jittery when the clock hits 8.30 PM. I start counting the hours of sleep I will get and looking at my 5.45 am get up time on the other side of the night is never something that makes me happy.

You can imagine the craziness that I felt last night when the clock hit 11.00 and I was still very much awake with all sorts of stuff swimming around my head. For some reason I had found my way onto my Itunes and was taking a leisurely stroll down a musical memory lane. I found a song by the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy that I had loved when I was a scruffy teenager, sulking at the worlds injustice and worried about whether my boyfriend was cool enough to impress all my mates.

I also bought a couple of albums by Floetry and Billie Holiday as I have had songs swimming around my head for a few days. What is clear is that listening the songs does not always take away the repeat mode that my brain seems to have. I woke up this morning with Floetry swimming around my mind. I need to constantly write down what I want to download, I remember in one moment and forget the next, there is too mcu music in the world, I just feel out of touch with it all, it was the one thing that I always believed really defined me in the past.

January 15, 2008

Time again

After only being here for 6 months, I find that it is the time of year when people start asking you about your plans for next year. This is all a bit strange as I feel that I haven't got a grip on life in Budapest yet, even though I am happy here. I like the city, and feel settled at school but with the cold dark nights and mornings people start to imagine life in sunnier climes and the applications begin.

This is the first year in a long time that jobs in other places hold no interest for me at all and it is unusual for me to not be looking at other countries and dreaming of a life elsewhere. The excitement of moving, the challenge of being somewhere new is something that I find a bit addictive and yet I don't feel the pull that I have in other places that I lived towards another change.

Barring an amazing book deal I know that I will be here in September, it just sort of feels a bit obvious. There are endless things still to know about Hungary and as yet I still have not made it beyond the borders of Budapest. I need more time to explore. I wonder if this life overseas can ever really be made more permanent than a couple of years when family and friends are in other places. The only pull I feel is the pull of home, and I am just not ready to start thinking about that yet.

January 12, 2008

Tanulás Magyar erős

Learning Hungarian is pretty hard I have to say. I had another lesson on Friday and although I am enjoying the lessons greatly, I wonder at how much I have learnt. I try and use the words that I know when I am out and about, but feel like I am using the same words and not adding anything new to the vocabulary usage. That said, I am sure that one day all the lessons will fall into place and I will find that I understand more than I think I do.

One of my favourite things I learnt this week is how to address a beloved teacher or elder. On the end of their name you put the word nene, like my teacher would become Bea nene. It is alomost a term of endearment and shows respect for a teacher or elder. We all liked this so much in class that we started to add nene to the end of all our names when we were talking. Our lessons now take place in a coffee shop down the road from school, and the waitresses and waiters are very patient in letting us practise the new ways we have for ordering.

In Poland I found that one phrase I used all the time was jescse jedno (one more, another one), and I learnt the Hungarian equivalent, meg egyet this week. I like picking up those words that come up all the time when you want to ask for certain things and I can't wait to try using it again soon.

On another note, I am after some good blog recommendations. Are you writing something I should read? Know any-one else who is?

January 11, 2008


I went Trampolining last night with some people from school. It was more fun that I ever imagined and I even managed to do a seat drop half turn to standing at the end of it, I asked D what the move was called so that I could tell L who is a Trampolining coach. I am still liking school and although the early mornings have killed me this week, work continues to make me feel positive. My back and knees are not feeling particularly positive after the stress on my joints last night, but it was totally worth it.

Tomorrow I have friends coming round for soup and gossip, I am like a social butterfly! The lie in that is promised tomorrow has never felt so welcome, darkness and cold in the mornings make you remember why Eastern Europe can be so hard in the Winter. Daylight would be nice, but the sunshine will be back soon enough.

January 09, 2008

The Peanut song

I was in Maths class when the three students I have started singing the peanut song. This came five minutes after one of the girls told me who was the 'Tudorist' person in the class when they were studying the Tudors and the Stewarts. I do like this class, they are adorable and make me laugh. Sometimes I am not sure that teaching should be this much fun. One of my Year 2 girls told me yesterday that she didn't like listening because 'that is when the teacher wants you to learn stuff'.

I got my first rejection letter yesterday, but was a bit too busy tidying and trying not to fall asleep to notice. Now that I have a moment to breathe I find that I feel OK about the rejection. I sent off four more proposals on Monday, so there is still hope floating in the atmosphere. One of my jobs for the weekend is getting ready to send off some more. Another job for the weekend is to hide from the horrible weather and get some sleep. Waking up in the pitch black after two and a half weeks of holiday is hell on earth let me tell you.

January 05, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside

I am wearing the Ugg boot style slippers that N got me for Christmas with a velour tracksuit I bought in Krakow. I am pretty sure that if I was wearing large Prada sunglasses that some-one might mistake me for Jlo. That would be except for the fact that I am wearing no make-up and have been in my flat all day. I have been basking in the glorious silence that follows two weeks of noisy bliss with my very large and lively family. I had a wonderfully busy two weeks at home, with lots of amazing food and brilliant time spent with friends. In particular, I find myself missing N and S, as they were the ones I spent the most time with. Conversations with a drunk trainee Priest never get boring.

I knew that it was cold in Budapest, but the iced chill in the air still made me gasp when I got off the plane last night. I went and gathered supplies and have been holed up ever since, hence the soft loveliness of velour. It is nice to be back, but it seems like a matter of hours since I left and the holidays have flown by to leave me with a quiet weekend before work starts again. I came away from my holiday with loads of new ideas for the book, which I remain hopeful and excited about. I am also planning a weekend in Warsaw for my birthday, which I am hoping the bank balance and (K and N!) will allow.

Christmas and New Year are times for reflection and I feel that there has been a fair amount of that this holiday. I feel focused and positive about 2008, I even bought new Hungarian books to help me study and envelopes to approach more publishers and agents. This will be a good year, I can feel it in my bones, which are freezing by the way, as it is -10 according to the thermometer on my balcony.

Budapest looked so lovely all covered in Christmas lights and white snow on my drive home from the airport and it was such a feeling of comfort walking back into my beloved apartment. I am even thinking of starting a new blog...

January 02, 2008

Looking back

I nicked this meme from Sognatrice, and thought it would be a good 'Lets do a New Year post' without having to think too hard. Franje, Despina, Tatiana, Kinuk, consider yourselves tagged.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before? Moved to Budapest.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I can't remember and no, all resolutions will be held internally this year.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Kinuk did!
4. Did anyone close to you die? No, thankfully.
5. What countries did you visit? Poland, Hungary, Spain, Slovakia, England
6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007? No debts
7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? August, the month I moved to Budapest and my Godson was born.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Starting to write book number 5, despite having had no success with any of the others.
9. What was your biggest failure? Having had no success with any of my book writing.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Coughs and colds...
11. What was the best thing you bought? A shopping basket, I love it!
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? J for coping with loss, K for being Mum to a new baby...
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Gordon Browns, Tony Blair
14. Where did most of your money go? Paying off debts...
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Sparklers on New Years eve, Conkers on Margit Island in the Autumn. First snow in Budapest. Going back to Krakow. My trip to Madrid. Sunday mornings in my beautiful apartment...I could go on.
16. What song will always remind you of 2007? Anything by Kate Nash.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? happier, a little bit thinner, no richer or poorer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Bike riding around Margit Island.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying about money, waking up at 6.00am
20. How did you spend Christmas? With my Family
21. Did you fall in love in 2007? No, unfortuneately.
22. What was your favorite TV program? Heroes, Numb3rs, Robin Hood.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No-one
24. What was the best book you read? The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff
25. What was your greatest musical discovery? That I am no longer cool, as I have no idea what the latest bands are in the UK.
26. What did you want and get? My own apartment, to be overseas again.
27. What did you want and not get? To be debt free
28. What was your favorite film of this year? Elizabeth-The Golden Age
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 31, N cooked me Georgian Chicken, with beetroot and green beans....beautiful.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A book deal, more snow, being fluent in Hungarian without any hard work.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? Tunic tops, swing coats, well fitting cords and jeans.
32. What kept you sane? Silence
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I would have to agree with Sognatrice...Milo Ventomiglia takes some beating....although Masi Oka is pretty cool too.
34. What political issue stirred you the most? The death of Benazir Bhutto
35. Who did you miss? The list is too long
36. Who was the best new person you met? New work colleagues.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007. I am the one who chooses happiness, I am the one who created a positive life around me.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
'Speak to me, when all you got to keep is strong
Move along, move along like I know you do
And even when your hope is gone
Move along, move along just to make it through
Move along' -All American Rejects