Saturday, 31 October 2009

It's Halloween in Budapest... and the kids and me have just been for a little stroll round the graveyard.

No I haven't gone barking mad, although after the week I've had I could be forgiven for going totally cuckoo. We've had to ban the word 'essay'; it can now only be referred to as 'the 'e' word', in a similar vein to 'the 'c' word' which sounds a bit like 'mishmash' and can equally send me reaching for the valium. Oh, and someone said the 's' word earlier when I mentioned how cold it's been today - I do not want to even think about s-n-o-w this side of mishmash so that one's on the no-no list too.

But you'll be pleased to know that I handed in the 1000 word-er in good time having finally struck inspiration on the return journey from Vienna on Thursday night. I cut this one pretty close, clearly I am settling in to my old student days at last. I subsequently tried some trendy entertainment with Nobby last night to really reconnect with the student 'vibe': we hit the A38 Club - a concert venue in an old, moored, Ukrainian boat down the dodgy end of the Danube.

Nobby, ever the eighties whore, has managed to sniff out a Hungarian band called the Panonia Allstars who play fantastic Ska music. He's seen them a few times but his usual Ska buddy recently skipped the country as we expats so often do, so I was allowed to go along instead. It took me right back to my Saturday afternoons at The Hop bouncing along to Bad Manners as 600 people all broke into the Ska dance when Panonia started playing. The only slightly un-nerving thing is the effect that 600 bodies jumping in unison can have on a moored boat - it moves. I didn't quite feel the need to cling on to the rigging but it was a weird sensation nonetheless.

However, I felt bloody old and not the least bit trendy all wrapped up in my sensible coat while these nubile young things hopped about in sparkly apparel. When someone behind me gave the crocodile clip holding my hair up an unfriendly poke (I hadn't had time to wash my hair, I was busy washing more nits out of Pickle's right up until the taxi arrived so the Carol Jackson look was the best I could muster) I realised a study full of text books isn't quite enough, I need to work on the image a bit. May require some hair dye as well as shampoo though these days, just don't measure me up for the zimmer frame and bunglalow quite yet.

Anyway, I digress. Did I mention we went to Vienna? Oh, but first, why did I take the kids to the graveyard on Halloween? Well October 31st is the day when Hungarians go to visit, tidy up, decorate and light candles on the graves of the dear-departed. It wasn't at all spooky wandering through the flickering candlelight and the place was really busy. I'm not sure my 'whooooo-ooo!' noises didn't do much for the contemplative atmosphere but I really couldn't resist.

I'll tell you all about Vienna next time. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

One down...

Cripes! Has it been a week already since my last blog-confession? I didn't realise, as I came crawling out from under my text-book mountain, blinking and dazed in the bright light of having FINISHED MY ESSAYS!!

But the celebrations didn't last that long. Just enough time for a family trip to the cinema to see 'Up' in 3D which was so hilarious I think the whole room heard my guffaws (I'm a student, I don't get out much.) Though I seriously wish we'd nicked some of the 3D glasses, they are way better than the free ones that come with the DVDs, with a nice Wayfarer look to them as opposed to Blue Peter sticky-backed-plastic-covered-cardboard.

We also had a family trip to the Cash and Carry as my neighbour managed to wangle me a membership card - since I am not a VAT registered company she's put me down as a farmer! Given my addiction to Farmville on Facebook it's pretty apt. (My sister and I agree that Farmville is like a mini Zen garden in cyberspace and we won't hear a word said against it before you start.) It was quite fun dodging the fork-lift trucks and stocking up on a year's supply of Kitkats. We found some cases of Australian wine at a reasonable price too, cheers.

Today I have been back at the books doing some background reading for the next assignment, due in on Friday. Slight issue in that I am supposed to be writing a proposal for a case study in my school and the school is currently shut down for the Autumn break. Whoops, note to self: must be more organised and interview fellow teachers before they all skip the country for a well earned rest. At least the reading has been very interesting today, I am feeling quite intellectual and busting for a debate on the finer points of teaching theory with Rose, whenever we two emerge from the virtual libraries long enough to hold a conversation. At least I don't have any exams, she had one earlier this week, poor lamb, and just to prove Sod's Law wasn't solely created for me, the Parisien public transport system decided to go on strike that very same day. Ouch.

In order to stuff my head into my cerebral pursuits I need to get the rest of the family occupied. Nobby was easy - there was a match on. All I needed was earplugs so I didn't have to hear him yelling at the TV. I'm sure he's convinced they can hear his shouts of 'Refereeeeeee! That was NEVER off side!' Pickle went on the DS of course, although three hours of it stretched his tolerance a wee bit and he subsequently went nuts on the trampoline before settling down with Boy-Next-Door round at his house for a spot of cyber-golf.

To Poppet I gave a box of Halloween decorations and a packet of sticky-tack.
Oh. My. Giddy-Aunt.
The place is like a witches coven bar the cauldron... though they are all the rage in Budapest, you can pick them up at the local supermarket complete with tripod for goulash-making over an open fire a-la olden days field-workers and farmers. Since I am now a farmer, I really ought to get one. We had a Halloween party last year and my Mum sent a tonne of decs in one of her care-packages so we have bats, spiders, skeletons and pumpkins a-go-go. The place smells like pumpkin too because the Cash and Carry had them on special so I spent last evening hollowing one out and cutting a scary face on the sides. Now I have a fridge-full of pumpkin to bake into pies, whenever I tire of the intellectual stuff.

Anyway, not much more to report really unless you want to read some of my insights into modern teaching theory. No? Oh well, I'll leave that to the markers. Fingers crossed I scrape through and live up to my Swot label from my beloved Squis and her be-twinned mate who reckon I am really sad for handing it all in a day early. I do not apologise ladies and I was not trying to be teachers pet. You have no idea how close I was to head-explosion. Not pretty.

PS Congratulations to Big Bruv and the Missus on their house move this week. Hurrah!

Sunday, 18 October 2009


We had the day all planned out. Nobby was going to do the weekend party-run (birthday season has begun), thrust the children into the sugar-fuelled fray then take himself off for a mooch round the shops while I stayed at home and bashed out another essay. Then, after a quick lunch, they were off to the cinema with some friends to watch Up in 3D.

Oh, the best laid plans.

Curve-ball number one was my almighty hangover this morning from completely over-indulging at our anniversary dinner last night. It had to be done really; ten years ago I was pretty fuddled poncing about a restaurant in my wedding dress waving my bouquet around, I thought I could recreate the moment. Wrong. Capacity for alcohol is way down and I don't think we'll be going back to that restaurant in a hurry.

Well, I ask you: you've got a busy, successful eatery slap-bang in the middle of a European capital city, why the hell don't you accept credit/debit cards for payment? Even sober I find that kind of reluctance to join the rest of us in the 21st century somewhat insulting. Give me half a bottle of nice red wine and I can get very verbal about it. Tip? I'll give you a tip - don't sour my anniversary treat by making my husband run to the cash point so we can settle our bill. Now stick this piece of coal up your backside; give it a day, maybe two, you'll no doubt squeeze it into a diamond.

So I spent much of my kid-free morning feeling rather nauseous and not really getting much written down on the very bright white piece of paper moving about in front of my eyes.

Then my friend calls to cry off the cinema trip because she's just found head-lice on both her kids. Apparently the nit-nurse was in school on Friday as there have been a couple of cases, not that I heard anything about it, and despite being declared nit-free on Friday she'd just pulled 31 lice out of her son's mop. Eeew.

We've never had a nit-problem at our house, mostly I think because I diligently keep the children's hair completely filthy. But Pickle returned home from the party scratching his head... you guessed it - nits. Oh nuts.

I whizzed out to the Sunday pharmacy for some treatment, earning a sympathetic-if-slightly-disgusted look from the pharmacist, and we all spent the afternoon smelling pretty awful from the hairline upwards and fighting the urge to scratch imaginary lice running down our necks to escape the napalm in our hair.

After rinsing, in good mother-gorilla stylee, I then set about picking nits off every inch of my brood's scalps. I am pleased to report there were only two actual crawlers, one on each kiddy, although they were crawling no more after their dowsing. What a way to spend an afternoon.

I wonder if I can get extra time on my essay deadline? 'The lice ate my homework, Sir.'

Now, stop scratching.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Another corker from Pickle: What do you call a girl with a frog on her head?


What do you call a city covered in driving snow in the middle of October?


Yup, it is SNOWING here already. I am mightily aggrieved. When I said I was looking forward to some cooler weather this isn't quite what I had in mind. Global Warming? Yeah, right.

The landlord had to pop over and fire up the central heating boiler for me yesterday so I don't turn into a block of ice while I pore over my essays. I could just cuddle up with the dogs of course - they are so attached now that once they've finished a good wrestle in the garden they pick a house then curl up together for a kip. It's so cute!

I battled my way through the inclement weather yesterday evening to meet up with the one other person (nutter) doing the same distance-learning teaching course as me. It was so nice to meet a human being in the flesh to rant about the essays to that I chattered on like a fish-wife, I'm not sure I let her get more than two words out. I also met her sister, who successfully completed the course a couple of years ago and who thankfully doesn't appear to have lost any of her faculties in the process; in fact she seemed very normal and knowledable to me so there's hope for me getting through this without having to grow an extra brain to fit it all in.

By the way, congratulate me - Nobby and me celebrated TEN years of marriage yesterday. Ten.


According to the traditional 'list' ten years is 'aluminium'. Hmm... romantic.

So I made him a card with a heart on the front cut out of Bacofoil. He bought me some beautiful flowers and booked us (and the kids!) into a hotel in Vienna during half term.

THEN I found the 'modern list' which says ten years is celebrated with diamond jewellry! How hacked off am I?

There's no substitute for research, must study harder next time.

Monday, 12 October 2009

One stick short

Why would anyone volunteer to take on a puppy? Is a frontal lobotomy included in the price? Or does it only happen at a full moon? I have a theory - you take on a puppy because it looked cute and sweet and it was a sunny day. (And possibly because your son begged you for six months.) Fast forward to seven o'clock on a rainy Sunday morning when your son has let the puppy go outside while you try to snatch ten minutes more sleep and now there are muddy footprints all over the clean floor as well as a puddle of wee on the back door-mat because it decided it didn't like being out in the rain. Suddenly you realise that someone somewhere is havin' a larf.

Couple that with a sudden yell of 'Mummeeee! The puppy's vomited under the table!' and you might want to rethink just how cute that puppy looked in the box.

Still, we made it through our puppy-sitting weekend relatively unscathed and the children learned a lot. I'm not sure I was quite prepared for the anatomy lesson, but when your daughter asks, 'Mummy, what's that thing like a lipstick underneath him? Why is he trying to rub it on my brother?' you need to take a deep breath and be honest.

And Ike is kind of cute. He is especially sweet after 8pm when he crashes out for the evening, muttering the occasional groan in his sleep. The new Ja-JaBinks nickname really suits him, he even has the funny walk - rather like a drunken whippet wearing clogs: skinny legs, huge feet, aiming in a forwards direction but somehow veering off slantwise. And he keeps getting the hiccups, I have never seen a dog do that before. It's the Despereaux ears that really tickle me pink. I did a quick rendition of 'Do Your Ears Hang Low?' for the delictation of my small people yesterday. It's an old ditty I recall from my childhood, not quite as exciting as 'Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour On The Bedpost Overnight?' but charming all the same. I'm not sure if the kids think I'm amazing to have remembered all the words for soooooo long or whether I'm just one slice short of the full loaf. But I don't really care.

You don't have to be mad to live here, but it helps.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Potty Time

Pickle's lost another tooth. The Tooth Fairy was running low on change and he only got 300huf. But he doesn't seem to mind.

Poppet smacked her big toe on the trampoline and needed an X-ray. It's not broken... but the lift from the basement car park to the medical centre on the 4th floor was.

The Insurance Fairy had better be able to poo money when I put the bill under my pillow tonight and rest my aching back.

Boy-Next-Door left his puppy here for the weekend - it looks like Ja-Ja Binks... only ginger. Tiggy is putting it through its paces and exerts her top-dog authority by dragging it round by the scruff of its neck. Still, it seems to have learned from her that weeing in the house really isn't going to win you any friends and keeping quiet at night keeps you from getting water-pistolled (all that Dog Borstal training is flooding back to me).

I am still having an essay crisis but my Mum is sending a text-book care-package, gawd luv 'er, (and by that I mean a parcel of text books, not a model parcel that would get you a Brownie badge).

Nobby is at a meeting over the other side of Hungary and missing all the fun.

That's all for now, but here is a joke from Pickle, who is reading this over my shoulder because he wants to play Grow-Island on Mummy's computer and the bit about pooing money made him giggle.

He says:

What happened when the cat swallowed a coin?

There was money in the kitty!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

An announcement

I just need to let you all know that Pickle has finally lost his first tooth. I didn't twig at first when he ran up to me at the end of school yesterday with a huge grin - he's always happy, plus of course his adult tooth already grew in behind the wobbly one (flash git) so there's not much gap to speak of.

But after much wide-mouth-frog-style grinning coupled with meaningful eye-gestures and unintelligible noises I finally got it and congratulated him, while Poppet sulked how 'it's not fair!' that her own wobbly tooth isn't budging.

Despite suggestions to the contrary the other week, Pickle decided he does actually believe in the Tooth Fairy and later wrapped his tiny incisor inside a tissue, inside a ring box, inside a Russian dolly with a note saying 'Lots of love from Pickle'. He was delighted with the resulting 400 forints this morning, especially as he thought he'd only get 300. The Tooth Fairy must have been feeling generous after waiting seven years for her first visit to Pickle's bed.

Anyway, as you were. I have to get back to my essay, I still have half a Thesaurus left to swallow so I can beef up my words a bit. I mean, to enable myself to enhance my written vocabulary... I seriously don't envy my tutor their job.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Lookin' Good!

This will have to be a quick word as I am up to my eyeballs in essays. I have two to complete by Saturday and I only have 1200 words to play with - not easy for me, I do love a good waffle. The one I wrote last week is full of big words but sadly lacking in verbs as I was running over the word count. I'm hoping they'll get the gist... (or maybe I'll have to rewrite it. Sigh.)

Anyway, I decided to take most of Sunday off to get some household things done and spend time with the small people and Nobby. Poppet and I had some Mummy-Daughter time before I decided I couldn't put off Tescos any longer. No-one else wanted to come along so I went on my own.

I didn't think I was wearing anything particularly flash but I kept getting the feeling that people were looking at me. I checked the usual things - flies done up, same colour shoes on, bulges all normal size and in the right places - and all seemed to be in order. Then the girl behind me at the checkout was very obviously staring at me while the guy running my stuff past the infra-red was avoiding eye contact. Very strange.

So I busied myself checking off my list - I always take one and I always neglect to look at it until I am just about to pay. Luckily I had remembered everything except the make-up remover. Make-up remover? Now why did I need that? I don't wear a lot of make-up. I certainly never do my nails...

Then I finally noticed, with dawning horror, the bright pink blobs of Princess nail varnish on my fingernails and suddenly remembered just exactly what Poppet had wanted to do with our Mummy-Daughter time.

You guessed it - Beauty Parlours.
Using her own cosmetics.

I really should allow myself the occasional glance in the mirror on my way out the door because I had just spent an hour in Tescos sporting hair, nails and make-up by my eight year old...