Category Archives: German In London

Morning Bath

Morning Bath


The tide was out and a big white

cloud floated so near, that I stretched

my hand dreamingly and sincere,

to draw your silhouette with my left

index finger on this vast canvas.


I imagined how magical scissors

cut along the newly drawn lines,

and suddenly you stepped out,

laughing at my new trick. We walked

the golden shore, our noses filled


with fish scented air and enjoyed

the wind messing with our hair, whilst

watching hundreds of playful waves

teasing surfers, who seemed to know

their every move, as they sped across


the white glistening foam, holding on

tight to their colourful kites…                     and then I woke up.

I went to the window and pulled up

the blinds and looked at two sparrows

splashing in their early morning bath.  


The photo was taken in April 2016 at St. Malo, English Channel.  





steaming mug of tea

When I was sitting at my desk with a mug of steaming tea and a large bowel filled with delicious spiced biscuits, I felt ready to face today’s task: typing out end of term reports and getting other well-overdue admin stuff done.

But only a short while later, during which I made myself comfy in the chair, sipped some tea and munched away on the first two biscuits…ah yes and started up the laptop, I

1. Placed laptop in the right position

2. Moved it several times to the-now-right position – that is, from one heap of files onto another

3. Wished that the desk was three times its actual size and thought how I’d rearrange all the stuff now cluttering near 87% of it

4. Realized that if it was three times its actual size it would probably be as clattered as the one I’m currently sitting at

5. Looked out of the window trying to accept that a larger desk would not fit in the available space, unless one part of the built-in wardrobe is removed, but the work and mess involved…

6. Realized that today was the first frosty day

7. Admired the beautiful crisp white stuff that was covering the flat-roof of the downstairs kitchen and bathroom…admired the frosty roofs of my neighbours…and the frosty shrubs…and frosty trees…and frosty rose bushes…

8. Seriously considered going for a run

tigger9. Realized that I don’t run – I don’t even own a half decent pair of bouncy trainers that would allow me to bounce around Beckenham like Tigger and I wondered whether that would be cheating, so quickly had to google ‘bouncing like Tigger’ and found this quote from Vivian Komori “Life is not about how fast you run or how hight you climb but how well you bounce” and decided that it definitely wouldn’t be cheating.

10. Sent an email with 3 typos in it – of course I only realized that after I pressed the send button…typical

11. Went downstairs to prepare another mug of tea

12. Had the sudden urge to watch some YouTube Videos

13. Watched half a dozen videos

14. Realized that I have become the victim of procrastination…that I was procrastinating

15. Remembered the first time I had heard the word and instantly liked it…the way it sounds: pro – cra – sti – na – tion and repeated it several times aloud

…after all that, I had finished my second mug of tea and all the biscuits, felt much much better, brewed another tea, refilled the empty bowl and was finally ready to start with the reports.


“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time” – Marthe Troly-Curtin, Phrynette Married



A homage to all the different accents and dialects you can hear in the streets of London…and some personal past experiences.


English class for immigrants



Are you French? Irish? Or Spanish perhaps?

Ah, Austrian, there you go,

Was right after all, you’re not English.

Twenty years living over here you say?

Well I’d never known! That accent of yours.


London is my home, is where I live

is where I hear

What d’ya fink and innit


Mi no know where fi put dis one.

 And my pals from Glasgow say affectionately

Ach away ye go


A meet wae ye tae back o’ seven.


I listen and I speak to people.


the Queen and Mayor John.

They’re not my friends nor work colleagues.



I listen and I speak to people

from five continents.

I soak in and splash around

the heavenly colourful bubbles

of this gigantic language bath.


I hope you understand why

I couldn’t make up my mind

which accent to choose

and decided to stick with

the one

I know best.


Worldcup Identity

Brazil Worldcup 2014

Friday 13th June in a pub in Beckenham: one Austrian (me) together with 3 Portuguese and 5 Spaniards
watched as the Spanish team got “slaughtered” – even though the initial 1-0 lead looked promising and was celebrated noisily…naturally. But then, oh dear, oh dear (!)  Holland scored 3 times. Our quiet, head shaking disbelief quickly turned into cheering on the Dutch players who settled for a 5-1 win. After the game we decided to support the winning team from now on (ah… well, me at least for the next 60 minutes) as we went to Nandos (Portuguese “roast chicken” restaurant, celebrating Holland’s well deserved victory with a late night feast of extra spicy chicken and some strong Portuguese beer.

H*ly Sh*t
What a Defeat!

Was it revenge or
just poor defence?

It didn’t matter,
as we screamed in excess

clomping our feet
clapping our hands 

whilst meeting strangers’ eyes
laughing at our 5-1 defeat.

Saturday, 14th June: England vs. Italy – such great football! I wanted both to win…but that’s not possible, right?

And then there was yesterday’s brilliant match (Germany vs. Portugal), enjoyed by many…and Angela Merkel …

Last Friday night I was unmistaken
to support the Portuguese for certain,

cutting into their tender breast
to fast forget Spain’s first test.

There, look – oh what joy – 
the Germans now halfway

leading already three nil.
Is this an easy run uphill?

Four to one after the final whistle
shall we go and look into the magic crystal?


I managed to press – oh…hold on… no…I meant SLIDE the green and moving telephone on the screen of my NEW mobile phone – not that I HAD to get it, but had I not I would have lost  £13.50 sitting in the phone fund that my mobile phone provider decided to scrap at the end of November, and so, after hurrying inside one of their shops during the short break between two lessons I walked outside with a CLEVER phone – and answered J’s call.

I was startled when instead of her usual cheerful Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. JB calling GB, JB calling GB. Do you read me? Do…you…read… me? and therefore loosing out on my automatic reply I can read you very well, JB, over, I heard this . When asked, she told me that the song came from her white and round fluffy fella (that is, a singing snowman). After insisting to press the button again (I don’t get serenaded to that often) that cheerful tune just stayed in my mind for days and then I thought about cheerful German Christmas Carols. As a result of all this (in case you were wondering what I’m rabbiting on about) I decided to play two Weihnachtslieder (see links below) at the end of my last few lessons before Christmas – working a bit with the vocabulary and practicing our listening skills (it was a German lesson after all).

Why don’t you try to sing along with your friends, family and/or pets on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or right this minute  (the clips are great for karaoke). It’s fun, releases stress (really) and you get to practice your German.

Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann

Kling Glöckchen klingelingeling

Here are some tips on how to listen to a German song and get the most out of it:

1.Listen to the song without looking at the text, concentrating on the German words.  Do this at least 2-3 times!
2.Then, play the song again and follow the song by reading the text.
3. Here’s the English translation.

Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann

Tomorrow Santa’s coming,
Coming with his gifts.
Colourful lights and silver decoration,
Child in crib and sheep and bull
shaggy bear and panther cuddly toy
I’d like to have.

Bring us, dear Santa
Bring also tomorrow, bring
Shaggy bear and panther,
Steed and donkey, sheep and bull
Nothing but nice things!

But you know our every wish,
You know our hearts.
Children, father and mama
Even grandpa
We’ll all, all be there
Painfully awaiting your arrival.

Kling Glöckchen klingelingeling

Ring, little bell, ringalingaling!
Ring, little bell, ring!
Let me in, you kids!
So cold is the winter!
Open the doors for me!
Don’t let me freeze!
Ring, little bell, ringalingaling!
Ring, little bell, ring!

Ring, little bell, ringalingaling!
Ring, little bell, ring!
Girls, listen, and boys,
Open up the room for me!
I bring you many gifts,
You should enjoy them!
Ring, little bell, ringalingaling!
Ring, little bell, ring!

Ring, little bell, ringalingaling!
Ring, little bell, ring!
Brightly glow the candles,
Open your hearts to me,
I want to live there happily,
Devout child, how blessed!
Ring, little bell, ringalingaling!
Ring, little bell, ring!

Schadenfreude? Nein…Schottenfreude! German words for the human condition

Am down to my last packet of handkerchiefs even though I bought a packet of 10 the other day. Just in case, I thought then. But yesterday I began to rip them out of their packet in lighting speed to stop the endless flow from my nose. Today I am trapped in my bed with regular intervals of sleeping, wakening, shivering, sneezing, drenching my grandmother’s white embroidered handkerchief with eucalyptus oil and placing it over my meanwhile very delicate red nose in order to sooth some annoying sinus pain and help my breathing. Luckily, I found a packet of paracetamol, and so keep swallowing  one 500mg pill in regular intervals in the hope of killing the typical cold-and-flu-associated-aches-and-pains.

Having been awake for over an hour I am now sitting up in my bed with 3 large pillows supporting my back. Just moments before I decided to re-read the excerpt from Ben Schott’s Schottenfreude (New York Times, 11th October 2013), (thanks to my Tues lunchtime students, who emailed me the link!!) which demonstrates the beauty and playfulness of the German language with its ability to create words. New words by joining nouns together, for example (known as compound nouns), such as Fitnessstudio, which results in three of the same letters in a row (Fitness + Studio) or Schneeeule or Schnee-Eule (Schnee + Eule = snowy owl)

Ben Schott’s beautiful little book is a humorous delight for language and word lovers. However, Schottenfreude contains not just some beautifully constructed and poetic words, but the reader is at the same time entertained by their often amusing English definitions and background information.

Product Details

My favourite word at the moment is Herbstlaubtrittvergnügen, because I just love pronouncing it but also because of its meaning. That is, Herbst (autumn) is my favourite season and I love to see the leaves of the trees (Laub) changing colours before they fall to the ground. And I enjoy walking through foliage (treten = to kick, to thread on, to step) and all the little pleasures in life, such as kicking autumn leaves.

A slightly longer word mentioned in Schottenfreude (I counted 8 words) is Kraftfahrzeugsinnenausstattungsneugeruchsgenuss – new vehicle smell.

And now, before I fall into Sonntagsleerung (Sunday afternoon depression) I better take another paracetamol, listen to a some soothing music and dream up new words.

Here you can find an extract of the book, which gives you an idea of the it’s format. It also has a bonus audio recording of some of the words and their meanings.

Vegetable paradise in my backyard – potatoes for beginners

Really happy with my first-steps-towards-a-grow-your-own-vegetables-paradise-in-my-tiny-backyard thanks to D. who encouraged me to take up the relaxing, satisfying and affordable hobby of growing your own in pots and bags in my tiny and quite shadowy patio.

That is why one day in mid-May day after our weekly 90 minutes German class – that day we learnt fruit and vegetable vocabulary, after which D. could list all vegies and fruits he has got in his garden (you name it, he’s got it) I headed straight to the nearest Robert Dyas store, found the gardening section, picked up a giant growing bag together with a King Edward seed potato taster pack, carrot, onion and chive seeds.

giant reusable grow bag

After filling the big green bag (see picture above, taken from RD website) with compost most seeds were planted by the following weekend…and as the giant bag is not that giant after all for all the seeds I had, I continued planting them in some unused flower pots. To be honest, I did not plant any flowers this year as I assumed that we would not get much of a summer. Couldn’t have been more wrong!


All started to grow really well. I checked on the young plants first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I began to hate snails, particularly slugs, after discovering how they would feast on my potato plants. I discovered slug/snail pellets. I enjoyed pottering about my patio. Then, all of a sudden came the unexpected prolonged heat wave a time when I was away in Spain experiencing a ‘proper’ harvest with a harvest machine (will upload some photos in separate post).

Anyways. Once back in London and after worrying about my own possible gnocchi-sized-potato-harvest I sighed with relieve when I discovered that the potatoes have survived and the prospect of harvesting proper potatoes, some onions (most thought have been eaten by a mysterious animal) and carrots.

But for now I keep enjoying this small but cosy outside space.


“Bad Science” and “Bad Pharma” by Ben Goldacre

2 or so years have passed since I’ve read Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science, which reached nr. 1 in the non-fictive charts and was translated into 25 languages. And yesterday I had the chance to listen to Ben giving a short talk at the Philosophy Now 2012 Award for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity held at Conway Hall, London, where he also presented his new book Bad Pharma.

Bad Science is a highly entertaining book about the misuse of science by quacks, journalists and big pharmaceutical companies and it might well change the way you look at drug companies, researchers and journalists.

Check out Ben Goldacres blog

About the Awards for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity read Philosophy Now Editor Rick Lewis’s description of the award’s purpose in this article in The Telegraph: ‘The world’s biggest problem is stupidity’.

So you’d like to improve your German?

A great and fun way to practice any language is via interactive activities/stories and audios, which allow you wherever you are – at home, on the train, at work (during your break time), at the local library, on the toilet 🙂 …-  to get a quick daily fix of German, even if you only have 5 minutes! And I can assure you, it is worth your while.

A fantastic site for self study is the Learn German section of the  Deutsche Welle. There you will find activities and mini series suitable for your level (beginner (A1), elementary (A2), intermediary (B1 B2), advanced (C1, C2). You can also take a short placement test to check which level is right for you. For more information about the different levels or the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages click here

Courses you can choose from:

The A1 audio course “Mission Europe” – learn German (or French or Polish!) with action packed crime stories; the A1 – A2 Audiotrainer, allows you to expand your vocabulary by different topics and to improve your pronunciation; tip: download the podcast on to your smart-phone or i-pod! the A1 – B1 audio course “Deutsch – warum nicht?“, has 104 lessons with dialogues and exercises. The A1-B1: Interaktiv – is an online innovative course for independent learners. And if you like to brush up your business German try the Audio course “Marktplatz” (B2), which contains 26 episodes! And finally to listen to daily German news click here .

I wish you lots of fun with learning German!