Tuesday, 29 January 2008

I love in Cologne

Yesterday morning I contacted a German lady.
I wrote her an email in my best German.
I started by explaining that I live in Cologne.
Or so I thought.
It was only in the afternoon when I realised I had made a common error and had mixed up the verbs 'leben - to live' and 'lieben - to love'.
I had actually written that 'I love in Cologne'.
Which is more information than she probably wanted over her morning coffee.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008


Has my humble little blog found some kind of fame?

This is what I am currently pondering. For this afternoon I 'Googled' my site - under the blogs section - and found that one of my posts had been quoted in the Gluhwein.net blog. I hadn't known there was a blog specially devoted to gluhwein until this point, but I guess I am glad someone is out there giving gluhwein good PR.

I did go on about gluhwein quite a lot over the festive season, so perhaps it is no surprise that they saw me as some kind of kindred spirit.

Is it wrong to achieve a small amount of fame from one's drinking habits? (Hic.)
Link to the quote...
Gluhwein recipes...

Medieval grizzliness

At the weekend I visited a local museum of medieval art. I was most taken by the deathly pieces you see here. I have chosen to show them in order of 'deadness', from just killed, to several days dead, to decomposing with worms. Which suggests that either I have have a rather grizzly outlook, or that the majority of the art on show was morbid. It's both really.
Beheading of John the Baptist
First up is this wooden relief showing the story of the beheading of John the Baptist. It is dated to the 16th Century and originates from southern Germany. It shows the point at which the dancer, Salome, is presented with John's head on a silver platter. John had been held as a prisoner by King Herod. Salome attended a party at the royal palace and danced for the king. The story goes that Herod was so entranced by the dance that he granted Salome a wish. On the advice of her mother, Salome requested John's execution.

Here the story is represented in a very matter of fact way. See the very clean wound. No evidence of any severed veins of arteries there.

PietaNext is this piece dating from around 1460, which was carved in the Netherlands. It is a type of art known as a 'Pietà' (Italian for pity) - a representation of the moment Christ is brought down from the cross and is mourned by Mary.

It is quite rich in colour, with strong blues and reds. Reds are used to show Christ's wounded hands and body. Seven figures circle the central figure of Christ and all the action takes place in a very compact space.

Finally, here is a miniature sculpture from Aachen dating to around 1520. This sculpture is of a type known as 'Memento mori' (Latin for 'remember you will die'). Typical memento mori pieces include evidence of death - whether that be a painting showing a skull, or something more gruesome, like this 3-D rotting cadaver. The point is to remind the viewer that, whatever status they hold in life, everyone dies in the end. Such pieces were extremely popular in the middle ages, as death became more common due to plague, pestilence and warfare. Memento mori

This particular sculpture shows a corpse in a beautiful chequered casket. It is made from ivory. The corpse is feeding a whole host of wildlife including worms, lizards and possibly rats (it's a bit hard to make out).

Now, I have to confess to a special interest in this type of art, having done my degree dissertation on medieval tombs depicting decomposing cadavers. I really got into it. (As you can probably imagine.)

All the pieces are from Museum Schnütgen.

Sunday, 20 January 2008


I got very excited this week as I found they were selling Cadbury's Crème Eggs in the English Shop in town. At a rather steep 79 cents a pop. Of course, price does not always stop an addict/aficionado, so I bought and devoured one as a special treat to myself. Simon is going back to England on Tuesday, to attend a workshop, and so I’ve already asked him to bring back a multi-pack of Crème Eggs from the airport.

Now, I know shops tend to get ahead of themselves with their seasonal merchandising. However, this year Easter really isn’t that far in the future. In a fortnight the massive Shrovetide annual carnival of Cologne will already be in full swing. It heralds the 40 days of Lent. Then hey ho, what do you know? Easter will be upon us.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Marco, who loves ya baby?

Ich liebe dichToday April and I went to the park to stare at the geese, ducks, swans, families, joggers, tramps and the crazy guy pretending to box with an invisible opponent...

While there I saw this piece of graffiti. Possibly one of the most romantic I have seen. If a bit illegal.

So many questions spring to mind. Who is Marco? What is about Marco that makes him so desirable? Did this piece of artwork win his heart? Did Marco and his admirer end up cohabiting and bickering over whose turn it is to walk the dog?

Saturday, 5 January 2008

My little holiday

I have been on a little Christmas holiday to England. Two weeks of chilling out with family and friends. With a lot of a) eating and b) drinking. The break was just what the doctor ordered. (To be truthful, he actually ordered a round of antibiotics to fight a particularly nasty bug I had. But that didn't stop me from carrying out a lot of b.)

It was April's first Christmas. She really enjoyed all of the attention. Oh - and the presents! She gave me a gift too: a few days before Christmas she started to say 'Mum'. I am assuming that she doesn't know what it means yet, but to me it means everything.

Me in my New Year's Eve outfitThe Christmas period was also characterised by some silliness. Simon and I were invited to a 'murder mystery' party for New Year's Eve, which involved dressing up.

My character was supposed to be a dame, romantic novelist and lover of overstated clothes. Here is a photo of me dressed for the event. Hopefully the overstated part of my character - at least - comes across. Or maybe you just think I always dress this way.

It was fun to be blonde for a night. I found myself twizzling my golden locks round my fingers quite a lot.