Tag Archives: german in london

Heat…or better…A hot ‘n steamy summer’s day

P1030301The hottest day in Britain has come and gone (Wednesday, 1st July), phew…and no, in case you thought I’m about to¬†complain about the hot weather, I’m not, no no no, ’cause I WAS prepared!! Yep, ice pops came to my rescue, hehehe.

Actually, I’m STILL prepared for the next few days of glorious summer-sunshine ūüôā … hm, let’s see, disposable BBQs, beer, sausages, all the stuff necessary for gazpacho, beer, salad, courgettes, hand fan…and beer… uhm sun cream…oh and look there’s my old sun hat…haha very fashionable, still… so….yes….think I got all the really important bits for summer survival…


‘Heat’ or perhaps¬† ‘A hot ‘n steamy summer’s day’¬†


At the speed of light

you conquer me

leaving no time

to make up my mind:

shall I run or go on a spree?


Trickles of sweat

run down my face and back

to the crease between my buttock(s)

and I think,

Might cutting my hair

allow all of what’s left

of that steamy air

caress my neck

like my lover’s lips?

O please, that’s all I need to

get back in sync.


I’m gasping for breath

as I decide to wear a skirt

only to discover later, that I

relish the stares,

that follow my laboriously

shaved now snow-white legs.


How you turn this town into a place of swelter

and I’m so looking for shelter.


With rail tracks melting,

I arrive pelting

one hour late at my destination,

where it’s 2 degrees cooler,

where I feel like a ruler,

where I wear my hair up

embracing a soft breeze

and suddenly feel at ease


with you,

you naughty tease.


icecubes donw your back


Enchanted Forest


Ruta de la Tejeda de Tosande en Palencia, Castilla y Leon (2014)

P1010956  P1010866 (1)

Now, will you please remember the way. I forgot my compass!        A compass?? Hmmm, really??

P1010865 (1)   P1010851

P1010850¬† ¬†¬†P1010874¬†Lots and lots of beautiful trees …

P1010907 (1) P1010942

…and a nice view in between. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Careful, watch your step!

P1010833    P1010838

We’ve reached the summit. FINALLY time for a rest. Rumble rumble, might that be thunder? No, it’s my stomach. A ver, el bocadillo¬†de jam√≥nbocadillo de tortilla… bocadillo de chorizo…pero…pero d√≥nde est√°¬†mi chocolate?

P1010835   P1010862

Refreshed…and NO, in case you wondered, I didn’t find my chocolate, must have eaten it (completely unaware as so often) on my way to the mountain top… the way down is fast. I follow my, ahm, six (?) dwarfs…sure there were seven (???)


… ugh, eight??? Oh dear…confused…too much fresh air ūüėČ



I instantly feel calm strolling between old trees,
I marvel at their arrangements
and cuddle in their embraces
feeling their kisses disguised as a breeze.

I feel blessed amidst curious shapes and
branches, where birds, bees and bugs                                                                                               made their home and hideaway(s).
Suddenly I feel enchanted,

able to choose any path I fancy.                                                                                                                   I follow my desires and dreams.                                                                                                                   I turn into an adventurer looking for secret places
hidden deep inside the forest’s mazes.

My quest – the hunt of the old man’s hut.*

Heading for my chosen path,
I hold closely that moment,
thanking the forest to leave
me enchanted that very day.


Not long ago I read Grimm’s story of the Hut in the Forest.

First Witness

In June 2014, as part of the module ‘Teaching Languages in Multilingual Contexts’ (Goldsmiths University) I attended a session called ‘Creativity in the Language Classroom’.¬†After an initial discussion about what it meant to be creative, we briefly talked about a possible link between insomnia and creativity. Brilliant, I thought, as I’ve been an insomniac since my teenage years. So, my thought process continued, if I’m an insomniac I’m creative, right? … But before I started spending too much time reflecting on past creative achievements – I mostly came up with examples of creating ‘interesting’ but sometimes also surprisingly wonderful dishes in the kitchen – I decided to best leave it right there and concentrate again on the session. Coincidently, more or less around the same time, I came across Martina Evans‘s witty poem The Shop, which describes the longing for¬†a small drop of sleep by a ‘thirsty‘ sleep deprived mother. Since then, ¬†whenever I find myself waking up, usually at 2 or 3 o’clock, I think back of the creativity session and Evans’s poem. So, here’s my little creation to pay homage to my many sleepless nights – past, present and future.


First Witnessthree o clock


I know the time well before my eyes open

to glance at the two burning dials

staring back at me

with mockery

at 3 o’clock on the dot.  


As if for the first time I start to ponder

Where are you, god of dreams?

Why do you let me toss and turn  

instead of lying still like others do?

Why do you keep my sleep so brief?

Please listen, there’s no need for such economy!  


Abandoned and forgotten by Morpheus

I begin my restless routine:

First, I welcome those buzzing bees that

signal another busy night in the lead

and then the sound of the seven seas, that

foretell my lengthy journey ahead.  


Noises of waves breaking and bees humming

accompany the voices in my mind, which,

at its most active and dramatic,

keeps busy digesting

events I wish to forget and stages

imaginary situations

with clever conversations and

I cannot wait to applaud

their and-they-lived-happily-ever-after creations,  

because with an endless space to fill

I sense as my only defense


that give me pleasure when they unfetter

events held captive in various grounds that

need to be covered, before

I think of stealing a drop from the sacred bottle

stocked somewhere in a visionary shop*.  


When morning draws closer

I watch all that keeps me awake

riding  the  horses on a fast spinning

carousel and I sigh,

O what bliss! when I feel your cool finger

press lightly the invisible switch

on my hot forehead

to stop the Almighty.


And then, when I lie motionless,

I enjoy being the first witness

of the early bird’s symphony,

of the first plane pass over Beckenham,

of the first car start up in my street,

of my neighbour’s alarm at 5.30 and

of his front door slam at 6.45.  


It is then when tiredness

rigorously knocks

requesting permission to enter.  


O Insomnia, my ally, my companion!

You‚Äôre my visitor – I’m your host,

waiting for your call

I’m¬†ready to listen

to the stories of my endless




*this line was inspired by the poem The Shop by Evans, M. (1998), All Alcoholics are Charmers, London: Anvil Press


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?

Goodbye my friend…


… I cannot express my sadness in words, Fernando, but I will always, always remember you as the Fernando we have known for so many years. You are  and will be OUR champion forever. R.I.P.

In memory of Fernando, July 1966 – March 2014

Un vinito


Un vinito, vamos a tomar un vinito,

rings in my head like a persistent caller

and makes me raise a glass.

You posing for a photo

makes me smile.

And your imitation of Bruce Springsteen

can’t be done better by anyone else.

You smoking a cigar after lunch,

its smell lingers in my nose.

And you paseando round and round el corro 

with friends and neighbours

talking, listening being a friend.

Us drinking una* cubata,

me copying your ron con coca cola,

and listening to you singing Camaron**

appreciating the perfect gentleman.

All of that makes me

rememberphoto (2)

the many good

and fun times

we had.


*una cubata is grammatical incorrect. It should be un cubata (cubata having a male gender). As a Spanish language learner I overgeneralized the rule that a noun ending with an “a” is usually classed feminine, hence requiring the feminine indefinite article “una”. But Fernando loved me saying una cubata, so I kept it for him.

**Camaron (1950-1992), a Spanish flamenco singer.


photo 1 (1)  photo 2


(in memory of Lassie and Estrella)


It was the barking that done it, you know.

I say, had they not barked they’d still be there.

On top of the garage looking down whenever someone passes by

ears pricked up, heads cocked to one side then the other

and tails moving frantically like an out-of-control-pendel of a cuckoo’s clock,

all the time barking.


It’s a shame really, but I tell you, it was all the barking, you know.

No-one knows who’s done it, but there’s been lots of break ins.

Some gang stealing diesel from the tractors and lorries that are left outside.

Breaking into warehouses if they don’t find nothing outside.

But if that wasn’t enough, they slashed the tires of my neighbour’s lorry,

out of boredom or malice, who knows?


I tell you, this used to be a quiet place.

All that was only for Madrid or Malaga.

Rich places, you know, where the rich live.

But here, here’s nothing, just tractors,

and harvest machines, lots of land, wheat, sugar beets,

corn, barley and sunflowers.


If you come here in the spring or early summer

the land is very beautiful.

It turns green then golden.

And you can see the wheat moving in the wind and think

you are standing in the sea watching the waves

and the sunflowers cheer you up all the way to León.


I tell you, I’ve been a farmer all my life.

Been working the land for 60 years.

I never left this place, you know.

I’ve seen things changing slowly over time.

But all that what’s going on now is terrible, really.

I never thought it could happen to one of us in the village.


They came to steal

and when the dogs didn’t stop barking

they threw them two pieces of

poisoned meat

and the dogs didn’t object no more.

It was the barking that done it.


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.

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My favourite word at the moment is Herbstlaubtrittvergn√ľgen,¬†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 Рnew 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.