Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Dinner? ... "I want House!" said the 3 yr old

The lead up to Christmas is always a maelstrom of activity in everyone's lives - so I won't make excuses for not updating, but I will apologise for the unreturned phonecalls and the lack of Christmas cards to my nearest and dearest.

Nevertheless, two days before Christmas I decided I REALLY did want to make a gingerbread house.

My first, though only technically. Mum and I used to make them each year as homage to my European ancestry. However, I tended to play the role of asthetic adviser and thematic consultant. I had never actually baked, assembled and iced one on my own before.

I know IKEA sell kits, but that's just cheating as far as I am concerned. It certainly doesn't allow for the addition of mezzanine levels, juliet balconies and lighting systems.

Jms did request a Barcelona Pavilion, as we were spending Christmas in the company of designophiles.

But as it was my first attempt, I figured in the name of disaster mitigation I ought to stick to the script, and so went for the classic but basic gabled cottage design.

As you may see from the picture above, basic did however go so far as to include a table repleat with a bowl of fruit and teacups fashioned from icing. It also incuded the obligatory cat on a mat in front of the open fireplace, chintz carpet, lace curtains and paintings on the walls. Unfortunately the other photos my dearest beloved took while I was splitting the atom for the third time that day, were (ahem) out of focus. So you will just have to take my word for it's magnificence.

Better still it survived the 1 and 1/2 hour car trip down the coast on Christmas eve better than I did. After 5 hours icing it, I was a little dismayed that the host did not just want to admire it but had pulled out plates and cake forks before I'd even got it out of the box. Fortunately I managed to beat the hungry hordes off till the following day, so they could at least admire Jms' electronic work that night after the sun had gone down.

I'll try and hit up the other guests for some photos that were taken before its (energetic) demolition. Or even some of the post apocalyptic site - as there was something very poignant about the half destroyed house with it's European stamp "paintings". A bit Dresden post World War II. All it was missing was some tanks fashioned from icing and an advancing army of gingerbread men.

Unfortunately it was very well received by the other guests both asthetically and gastronimically, and as per usual, I am the victim of my own success. I have already had requests for next year including multiple storeys and MORE lights. Even the suggestion of roman ruins. But at least I have another 12 months to decided whether or not it is to be corinthian, doric or ionic columns.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Berlin to Bergen

Been back for almost a week now - long enough to know that the honeymoon is over, but not long enough to be over the jet lag nor to have finished tackling the giant pile of laundry!

In a month filled with daily paradigm shifts, its hard to distill the experience into bite sized chunks. But I guess my not-so-short list of highlights include:

Firstly, whilst in Berlin...

Potato dumplings the size of tennis balls at the Alte Fritz Kartoffelhaus.

The subtle but exquisite Martin Gropius Bau and the Richard Avedon exhibition contained within.

Ampelmann, amplemann, ampelmann (the East German pedestrian stop and go symbols). I (heart) amplemann.

The Jeff Koons exhibit at the Neue National Gallerie (and the freebie Blue Flower Balloon around the corner at Potsdamer Platz)

Marvelling that a 6 pack of beer was cheaper than a 6 pack of water at the supermarket.

Seeing Eis bears (Knut!), Pandas and Flamingos all for the first time in one day (my head nearly exploded)

Snaffling the last Comme des Garcon wool jacket in the bedlam at H&M (much to the dismay of several other shoppers).

Walking, walking and more walking around Berlin's broad and stately streets.

The consumption of many berliners

(Ein Pfannkuchen wenden Sie sich bitte!)

German MTV (and subsequently addiction to Deichkind's "Arbeit Nervt")

Tracing the scar of that infamous wall with our feet, only barely being able to comprehend its impact. Astounded that the "wall" is just one of many epoch defining moments in the city's incredible history.

Playing with particles at the "Welt Machine" - an interactive exhibit about the building of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

(Nothing like observing an animated discussion about sub-atomic physics between a cute German physicist and my husband to get me all steamed up). Now that's my idea of a threesome.

Overhearing a tour guide saying Berlin is the greatest city on earth, and quietly agreeing with him.

Then on to Copenhagen...

Smushi at the Royal Cafe (a cross between traditional Danish smørrebrød and sushi).

The fish that got away (AKA the most wonderful pair of bright blue, knee high leather boots). Alas, not to be.

Shop after shop of to die for fashion, furniture and homewares, some more interestingly named than others.

Being given shit for asking for orange juice with my steak by the Muscle Mary barman at a local pub in Denmark. Fair enough.

The BEST florist shops I have ever seen - Their sheer ingenuity (when winter makes fresh flowers prohibitively expensive or just plain unavailable)

Finding the Aladdin's cave of haberdashery among the tiny cobbled streets.

And finally, when in Norway, and the picturesque town of Bergen...

Snow, snow and more snow on our arrival.

Eating ice crystals. I love snow.

Sun, snow and sea.

Sparklers in the snow on Sotra Island.

Tandem sledding down the hill beside the house. Very romantic (in a scary, squeally kind of way). Did I mention that I love snow?

Bergen op-shops (oh to have a suitcase big enough for all the great stuff we found).

So many shops filled with exquisite Norwegian handicrafts. No 'Made in China' here thanks.

Glow-in-the-dark frisbee with Darcy in the snow and the inevitable snowball fight.

Snowman hate crimes.

Following deer tracks in the snow, taken aback by the stillness and ghostliness of the forest that quickly encompassed me.

Refraining (only just) from asking the MIL to sell all our stuff and put the animals on a plane. The Weebl's got it wrong (no offense Kenya), but Norway is the best place on earth.

(And apparently it's even better in summer)