Tag Archives: humour

Cormorants at Farne Island

The Puffins had already left Farne Islands for the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean the week before we arrived at Seahouses in late July. But that didn’t stop us to visit Staple Island – the boat trip alone around the outer islands was worth it…and, in the end, we did see some Puffins after all. And then there were the Cormorants, thousands of them, and other seabirds, of course. But seeing Cormorants for the first time in a natural setting, watching them spread their wings to dry, was one of many things I’ll never forget about this wonderful trip. 

The shots below were taken when we waited for our boat to pick us back from Staple Island after we had had about an hour’s exploration time. I watched a group of Cormorants getting on with their everyday life, ignoring their snap-happy onlookers.

P1070806.jpg Oooh, I’ve got an itchy bum!P1070808.jpg Ah, some loose feathers…P1070805 Mmmh, that feels better now.P1070804.jpg , What????

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Yes, a Puffin 🙂

 

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A Forest and the ghost of Queen Victoria

 

One day early in November last year, patient partner and I decided to visit Ashdown Forest which in medieval times had been a deer hunting forest. More recently, its northern part (The Hundred Acre Wood) became the setting or ‘home’ of Winnie the Pooh and his friends.
P1030901It was a cold and misty day, yet we felt excited, like explorers, ready to face an unknown wilderness.
Moments later we stepped inside the safety of the Forest’s visitor centre (ha!). Can I help you?, we heard a cheerful voice address us, and soon after, equipped with detailed maps, we set off to explore the forest’s beautiful landscape and trees and autumn colours. It was magical.

photo 1
The next day we visited Ightam Mote, a 14th-century moated manor house, which has a Grade 1 listed dog kennel – see if you can find it.

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Let me tell you, it was so quiet there and I wouldn’t have been surprised had  I’d seen a ghost. Pfff! Ghosts!, I thought as I wandered across the sunny courtyard …

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thud thud thud, the sound of  a walking stick hitting against cobblestones marked the end of my solitude. So I turned to acknowledge the other visitor…

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OMG, Queen Victoria!! Had I finally come face to face with a ghost? I stood mesmerised waiting for her pass through me. To my disappointment, she didn’t. But, she did acknowledge me very gracefully – oh dear I nearly curtseyed – before disappearing through one of the doors.

 

 

Halloween Party

Now, that Halloween has arrived, I wanted to get a little bit “in the mood”. I found this poem by Kenn Nesbitt  browsing through the poetry foundation site.
And yes…I’m having a typical lazy Sunday!  Sitting on my sofa, I’m all snuggled up in my snuggly blanket and I sip steaming Orange & Cinnamon Tea enjoying very much the company of books…and a bowl filled with Jelly Babies.

Halloween Party

We’re having a Halloween party at school.
I’m dressing up like Dracula. Man, I look cool!

I dyed my hair black, and cut off my bangs.
I’m wearing a cape and some fake plastic fangs.

I put on some makeup to paint my face white,
like creatures that only come out in the night.
My fingernails, too, are all painted and red.
I look like I’m recently back from the dead.

My mom drops me off, and I run into school
And suddenly feel like the world’s biggest fool.
The other kids stare like I’m some kind of freak –
The Halloween party i not till next week.

 

When I was a child I loved nothing more than listening to my grandma telling the gruesome story of the ‘real‘ Dracula, Vlad Tepes, whose castle stood close to Kronstadt (Brașov), my grandmother’s birthplace.

flad-czepez-castle_dracula

Bran Castle, Summer 2013

“Near Kronstadt stands a big and beautiful castle, called Bran. It is set amongst the Carpathian mountains and surrounded by dense woodland. History tells that a gruesome prince would impale anyone, who went against him, around his castle. And so blood ran down the hills into the valley day and night so that the place soon became known as ‘the forest of human bodies.'”

My hairs stood up on my neck and arms every time she spoke the last sentence. And I’d ask, ‘But did he really exist?’
A quiet nod was her response. 

 

 

The Truck

English song title, ‘In order to be happy, I want a truck.’ 

‘You’re the least patriotic person I’ve ever met.’
I take a sip from the steaming fennel and mint tea and look at my friend who I met in Pret.
‘Mm-hmm,’ is all I manage to reply before I start running after my mind, that has decided to ramble down memory lane to find relevant and recent evidence of my still existing emotional support of Austria. A few hundred meters later, I saw … 

1. Taste of the Alps Week, when unaware of this exciting fact, I entered my local Lidl. Nostalgia didn’t hit me hard – bang! boom! bang! – when I discovered packets of Austrian sliced sausages and hams in the refrigerated cabinet, but I did grab, albeit mistakingly, a fellow happy shopper’s arm and pointed frantically at some pink boxes of wafers that sat on a shelf near the freezers, shouting ‘Mannerschnitten!! I can’t believe it. They have Mannerschniiitteeennn!’ I was surprised to hear a friendly ‘Ah, they look nice,’ from a smiling lady with Eastern European accent, who didn’t mind that I’d grabbed the wrong arm.
‘Why don’t you buy some ?’ I heard patient partner’s calm voice from my other side, clearly oblivious of the mixed-up arm affair.
‘Na, not really interested’ I replied quickly. And that was that.

The following day, early evening.
‘Gerdiiitaaa, there are ten packets of that Austrian meat selection in the fridge…um, and six 4-packs of Mannerschnitten in the kitchen cupboard!’
 

2. Euro Cup 2016. I watched Austria vs Portugal. I have to add that I’m not at all an overly enthusiastic football lover, despite the fact that I’ve been a longstanding member of la peña de Atletico de Madrid of Belmonte de Campos. In fact, I did not have a choice but to join the club when its chairman Luis shouted excitedly, ‘Somos INTERNACIONALES,‘ thrusting a red and white membership card firmly into my hands.
So, after Austria’s second qualifying game my voice was hoarse for a couple of days thanks to all the cheering. What amazing result…0-0 for those who are interested.

3. ‘The’ truck. Late morning last Friday, before walking into the office for the usual language training sessions…20161014_104617

Alas, homeland! Sweet homeland!

How strange is this sigh,

Fifty yards from my

work destination

I see a truck stuck  

near St. Lawrence church in a narrow lane.

 

It sure looks impressive:

High sides  almost touching

the adjoining building 

that’s raised in the City.

 

A few steps later

I startle and scurry back,

to fish out my phone

from its protective sleeve

and take a picture of

its registration plate: A‘s the Country 

 

Then a double L,  

three numbers, two letters –

Austria, Linz-Land,

my birthplace, even

homeland? Now I realise it still is,

and look for the driver to ask how he is.

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 🙂 … 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)

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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 …

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

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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 jamónbocadillo de tortilla… bocadillo de chorizo…pero…pero dónde está mi chocolate?

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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 (???)

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

 

Forest

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.

Birds and tattoos and Cheeky

Arazeli g1ot a tattoo. Yes (!!!), I thought and, I couldn’t have asked for a better giftA better gift? WHY and HOW on earth could another person’s tattoo be a present for me you wonder? Well, first of all, it happened before. Many many years ago, my then other half came home one evening, after spending the day with some friends in town, crying enthusiastically cheerful – evidence of having downed a couple of pints on the way home – Hey little one, got a bonnie wee surprise fer ye! We’ve a new addition to oor ye-an’-me-an’-a dog hoosehold!! Oh no, I feared the worst. Tentatively I asked, But where is it, whilst my eyes scanned for signs of a puppy or kitten hidden under J’s T-Shirt or a holy cardboard box, the means of transport for a hamster perhaps, or a bird, or a chameleon or other lizard-like creature, which I really wanted back then. And as my eyes wandered upwards…slowly, I saw ‘it’ and I can tell you now, I had to look twice. What on earth is ‘that’, I thought, before screaming, Butpepelepew2, but…you’ve got a tattoo…a cartoon tattoo, and my eyes finally rested on the black and white and extremely charming French skunk Pepé le Pew. Pepé, notorious for constantly looking for l’amour in Paris’s streets during spring time, was laughing at me, seductively, through the recently applied cling film, which was tightly wrapped around J’s left upper arm. And J said, that this tattoo was my special present.

Secondly, ever since I saw a tattoo for the first time, as a young girl, I knew that one day I’d be displaying some beautiful inky art somewhere on ‘moi‘. So, Arazeli’s tattoo was a gift in a sense that it brought back my long forgotten wish to get one and it made me think of that perfect first design and that perfect first bodily area that should serve as its canvas…ah…yes…by the way…this whole tattoo thing is NOT even the slightest possible sign of a (mild) mid-life crisis! (ha, I would say that, wouldn’t I?).

As of today, hurray hurray, I finally know which design and where to place it leaving only the when to be decided.

What: Birds. Why? Well, I’ve always loved birds. I remember that back home in Austria, I used to wake up and fall asleep to their morning and evening songs. And in the neighbours garden, in an old oak tree, that stood amongst other trees, I think acacias and chestnut trees, there lived this beautiful woodpecker whom I enjoyed listening to as he pecked the bark to get some grub from underneath it and whilst listening I imagined how he’d pull out a long worm from the freshly made hole in the oak’s thick trunk just below its branches. And then in winter, there were little robins and sparrows and blue tits, who’d come to our birdhouse and my grandmother’s windowsill, where we’d left some seeds after breakfast to watch them feeding.

After I’d moved to London I missed our garden and the birdsong but soon one white bird with a yellow crest and orange cheeks, became my feisty friend. I called him Cheeky. Cheeky, who came from a bird rescue centre soon felt 1 (1)comfortable in his new home. And what clever bird he was. He knew the first chords of the theme song from Eastenders! What talent, I thought, and from that moment on I’d spent hours on end sitting in front of him whistling, determined to teach him a new song. The first time he imitated my tune I nearly fell off the sofa. From then on, as soon as I came home after work and I’d whistle our song, and Cheeky would jump onto the side bars of his cage, raise his crest, stretch his head towards the main door, climb out of the cage (the door was always kept open) and fly straight onto my head. There, he would preen my hair or hammer softly on my head before roosting. 

So, my first design will be a flock of 5 little birds flying towards … not telling… use your imagination!

When I found the pictures of me and Cheeky I thought of the following …

Cheeky

How upset he was 

squawking and walking 

up and down the sofa 

when he’d noticed

my shaved head.

How he ignored me, 

punishing me for having 

to now sit on short sharp 

bristles, that replaced 

his curly nest. 

How he screeched at me!

Did he look back to when

he preened my curls

carefully drawing them through

his strong beak

thinking I was his mate?

I remember the day 

when he returned stalking 

around my head again and 

I felt his warm feet and

knew I’d been forgiven. 

United again Cheeky gently

pecked my head 

perhaps searching for the curls 

he’d once preened and I wondered: 

Did he forget?

Soon after and sitting on my

shoulder he puffed himself fluffy 

and grinding his beak

he fell asleep before

returning to his perch.

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

illusions

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’re my visitor – I’m your host,

waiting for your call

I’m ready to listen

to the stories of my endless

wandering

mind.

 

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

Procrastination

 

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

 

Accents

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

Accents

 

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

and

Mi no know where fi put dis one.

 And my pals from Glasgow say affectionately

Ach away ye go

and

A meet wae ye tae back o’ seven.

 

I listen and I speak to people.

Not

the Queen and Mayor John.

They’re not my friends nor work colleagues.

No!

 

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.