Wednesday, 30 April 2014

"everyday" (part 17)

23. - 29. April

23.4. picked up my first beauty-products-surprise-"Schön für mich"-box from Rossmann
24.4. saw "Woyzeck" at Staatstheater Mainz...thought I´d like it but didn´t
25.4. saw "Kaspar" at Staatstheater Mainz...thought I wouldn´t like it but I did
26.4. strolled around the "Orangerie" garden in Darmstadt
27.4. put sliced strawberries instead of halves on shop-bought pastry bases and it looked better than any version before - I called my invention rose tarts :-)
28.4. baked a raspberry & créme fraiche cake
29.4. met the four weeks old daughter of my very good friend and was relieved to see that the romper I bought was not too small already

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

I´m gonna burn this city, burn this city

Can´t believe it´s already a month ago that I went to the fantastic Franz Ferdinand concert in Wiesbaden (sometimes I feel that when you live two lives at once - which I´m basically doing - time is going twice as fast).
I have been to a fair number of very different concerts over the years and the Glaswegian band "Franz Ferdinand" was always on my list since falling in love with their debut album in 2004.

To put it in a nutshell (really, is anybody in real life ever using this phrase or is it an invention of language teaching classes only?!?): It was brilliant!

The support band "Teleman" was quite good  - they came from London and they won me over by that only. We managed to stand only 3-4 meters away from the stage so I had the best view and most "intimate" experience I ever had at a similar concert.
What can I say apart from that they rocked (gained a whistle in my ear that lasted till the next afternoon).
Over 100min of great great music played with precision and passion.

Next time the guys will go on tour, I will be there too!

Monday, 28 April 2014

I heart Paris

author: Lindsey Kelk
published: 2010

When Angela Clark´s boyfriend Alex suggests a trip to Paris at the same time as hip fashion mag Belle asks her to write a piece, she jumps at the chance.
But even as she’s falling for the joie de vivre of Paris, someone’s conspiring to sabotage her big break. And when she spots Alex having a tête-à-tête with his ex in a local bar, Angela’s dreams of Parisian passion all start crashing down around her.
With London and her old life only a train journey away, Angela can’t decide if should stay and face the music or run away home…

what I liked: It is mostly set in Paris which can never be a bad thing. Though some descriptions and analogies can get a bit repetitive it is an easy and pleasant enough read...and as pure shallow escapism it is quite nice to read about the heroine´s Louboutins or her Marc Jacobs Satchell.

what I didn´t like: Angela Clark is a cow! The things constantly happening to her are well over the top even for a book like that and her stupidity and clumsiness is just unbearable. This is Bella Swan in designer clothes.

verdict: The idea itself wouldn´t have been that bad, I mean, you know what you are in with chick-lit, but if all you feel for the main character is that you wanna punch her it is not a good start.
Well, proud I finished...and feeling more than ready now for some "proper" literature.

PS: This is part 3 of a series...I read part 1 years ago on holidays and vaguely remember that I liked it.

Friday, 25 April 2014

I´ve been looking for freedom IV

the last of my Berlin photos...hope you like them!

She is not invisible

author: Marcus Sedgwick
published: 2013

plot: Blind girl Laureth Peak's father is a writer. For years he's been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. He's supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong.
On impulse she steals her mother's credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother with her.

what I liked: Sedgwick knows how to write and even his attempt to do so from a female teenagers perspective works well. I loved reading about coincidences and was quite fascinated by the partly scientific digressions.

what I didn´t like: The end! It all builds up so well and then, boom, comes an anti-climax that spoils the positive feeling of before. As if the deadline was looming and he had to finish pulling an allnighter.

verdict: It´s an odd book. Meant for younger readers but appealing for adults as well the story is dealing with more or less philosophic questions and problems. Worth the read but as the end is so simple and shallow you are left feeling slightly confused.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

La Traviata

Theater: Staatstheater Mainz
Musik: Giuseppe Verdi
Regie: Vera Nemirova
Premiere: 11.1.2014

Inhalt: Eine Geschichte aus der Pariser Halbwelt des 19. Jahrhunderts. Violetta Valéry gehört zu den großen Kurtisanen der Gesellschaft – bis sie Alfredo Germont trifft und ihr bisheriges Leben aufgibt, da sie zum ersten Mal echte Liebe empfindet. Doch Alfredos Vater verlangt, dass sie seinen Sohn wieder freigibt, um seine Familie nicht zu kompromittieren. Violetta, bereits von der Tuberkulose gezeichnet, beugt sich dem moralischen Druck.

was mir gefallen hat: Vida Mikneviciute als Violetta war der Wahnsinn - sie kann sowohl spielen als auch das Theater zum Einstürzen singen, umwerfend. Auch das Orchester war sehr gut (soweit ich das als Laie beurteilen kann) und Heiki Kilpeläinen als Alfredo´s Vater war fantastisch als Bill Nighy Verschnitt mit Hornbrille.

was mir nicht gefallen hat: Thorsten Büttner als Alfredo konnte mit der stimmlichen Power seiner Angebeteten nicht so ganz mithalten.
Mein größter Kritikpunkt hat jedoch nichts mit der Aufführung in Mainz zu tun: Ich finde diese Oper ganz einfach blöd! Verdi ist nett aber berührt mich nie, sobald ich den Opernchor schon die Sektgläser in Feierlaune schwingen sehe, werde ich skeptisch und die Sterberei am Ende...da würde man irgendwann am liebsten eingreifen und die Sache beschleunigen.

Fazit: Super Aufführung mit solider Inszenierung und teils grandiosen Sängern - leider werde ich in diesem Leben wohl nicht mehr zum "La Traviata" Fanatiker - macht aber nix, davon gibt es schließlich eh schon genügend :-)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

"everyday" (part 16)

16. - 22. April

16.4. discovered a different kind of bluebell (?) in my beloved Kew Gardens
17.4. got my hair cut for the second time within 2 days...the fun of being a model...after that I walked 26 km through London and still cherish my blisters
18.4. cooked rice pudding with coconut milk instead of cows milk
19.4. flew from LHR to FRA in a near empty Boeing 767
20.4. saw the Playmobil version of Faust II in Wiesbaden
21.4. saw La Traviata in Mainz

22.4. had a look around the new building on university campus - stylish but why does everyone walking around look so damn young?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

"everyday" (part 15)

9. - 15. April

9.4. went on the Swanage Railway and visited Corfe Castle
10.4. bought a wonderful yellow coat at Seasalt in Exeter
11.4. visited Kingston Lacy
12.4. parked at Bushy Park and walked into Kingston - no car park fee and free coffe and cake, what a life :-)
13.4. watched "The Hobbit. An unexpected journey" and found it as boring and lengthy as expected*
14.4. had a Bun Cha Gio Ga at my beloved Vietnamese restaurant Pho in Brighton
15.4. had a Matcha latte at "Eat"...the colour is adorable but well, not feeling the need of drinking it again

*a friend send me this fantastic link:

My Policeman

author: Bethan Roberts
published: 2012

plot: It is in 1950s' Brighton that Marion first catches sight of Tom. He teaches her to swim in the shadow of the pier and Marion is smitten—determined her love will be enough for them both. A few years later in Brighton Museum Patrick meets Tom. Patrick is besotted with Tom and opens his eyes to a glamorous, sophisticated new world. Tom is their policeman, and in this age it is safer for him to marry Marion. The two lovers must share him, until one of them breaks and three lives are destroyed...

what I liked: It´s Brighton! It´s a man in uniform! It´s pretty frocks and kitten heels! But underneath those shallow considerations of mine I found the triangular love story very well constructed - all characters seemed credible although not equally likeable. I have to confess that despite being one that shouts "equal rights" whenever I get the chance I never really thought about what life looked like for gay people in the 50s and this book opened my eyes.

what I didn´t like: I cannot put my finger down on it exactly but somehow the language seemed a bit constructed, trying a bit too hard...I guess with a slightly more poetic style the story could have made it from very good to fantastic. But it´s a minor flaw really.

verdict: This book has made me aware that nowadays gay capital Brighton wasn´t always the place to be. I found the story grippping although lacking any dramatic climaxes and could understand pretty much every portrayed perspective - realising at the end that this is the depiction of three lives being wasted left me very sad and moved...won´t forget it too quickly and hope it will be made into a film!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny

Theater: Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden
Musik: Kurt Weill
Libretto: Bertold Brecht
Regie: Manfred Beilharz

Inhalt: Ein Taifun bedroht die Paradies-Stadt Mahagonny, in der die Bewohner ein beschauliches, aber zunehmend unzufriedenes Leben führen. Die Bedrohung inspiriert ein neues Gesetz: Du darfst alles! Und obwohl der Taifun die Stadt verschont, lebt man weiter nach der neuen Norm. Die Stadt blüht auf, die Bedürfnisse steigen und mit ihnen die Preise. Das bringt ein Problem mit sich: Man darf zwar alles, aber nur, wenn man es bezahlen kann! Als Jim Mahoney, der das Gesetz selbst eingeführt hat, das Geld ausgeht, wird er zum Tode verurteilt.

was mir gefallen hat: Eine Oper die mir bisher immer durch die Lappen gegangen war, nun kann ich mitreden...und den "Moon of Alabama" mitsummen. Die Regie war recht einfalls- und abwechslungsreich...
was mir nicht gefallen hat: ...konnte jedoch nicht über eine gewisse Biederheit hinwegtäuschen. So richtig gesellschaftskritisch kam das alles nicht daher und auch die mit starkem Akzent singenden und sprechenden Sänger haben mich nicht vollends überzeugt. Der knarrende Plastik Bühnenboden war mit das größte Problem! Jeder Schritt war zu hören und gerade beim Chor hat es genervt.

Fazit: Leider erneut so ein Abend der mich auf falschem Fuße erwischt hat (es muss wohl irgendein Problem gegeben haben da die Pause statt 20 satte 50Minuten dauerte was mich doch arg aus dem Konzept brachte) - ich war nicht in Brecht/Weill Stimmung und konnte damit wenig mit allem anfangen...eine zeitgemäßere und "krassere" Inszenierung hätte mehr Eindruck hinterlassen.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

after talking to Ralph Fiennes in my dream last night (he sat at the till in a bakery and sold me cake...) I decided I best get that review written before I forget everything about the film

director: Wes Anderson
year: 2014
with: Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, etc.

plot: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

what I liked: It´s unbelievably creative and aesthetically pleasing. That alone would make someone like me happy enough but on top I found it very funny and gripping enough in all it´s absurdity and exaggeration.
what I didn´t like: Don´t expect any historical precision and dont feel too offended by the lack of it. All the symbols and hints are there but that alone don´t add up to make a credible historical and serious film.

verdict: It´s colourful, it´s funny, it´s pretty, has a more or less sensible plotline and an amazing cast (with the odd German actor sprinkled in - think e.g. Adi Stadler from Lindenstrasse). First I was sceptic as I disliked the Royal Tenenbaums so much but now I´m won over. Left cinema with a big grin!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

"everyday" (part 14)

2. - 8. April

2.4. pretended to be Giuseppe Williams at a large trial at Heathrow Terminal 2
3.4. went to Birmingham with my husband using the amazing 50p Chiltern train deal and ate at Chaophraya
4.4. bought a romper suit...for a baby, not myself ;-)
5.4. seen the musical "Urinetown" in London
6.4. walked to the Thames and back clockwise, normally I walk anti-clockwise, dont know why...
7.4. been to the Riverside Studios in London to a tv recording of "The Elaine Paige Show" for Sky Arts
8.4. helped erecting the tent on a campsite in Dorset, our home for the next 3 days

Monday, 7 April 2014

Where'd you go, Bernadette

author: Maria Semple
published: 2013

Bernadette Fox is notorious.To Elgin Branch, a Microsoft wunderkind, she's his hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled wife. To fellow mothers at the school gate, she's a menace. To design experts, she's a revolutionary architect. And to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, quite simply, mum.

Then Bernadette disappears. And Bee must take a trip to the end of the earth to find her.

what I liked: Once I got used to the epistolary style I enjoyed finding out more and more about the novels epicenter Bernadette. Even though I have no connection to Seattle or Microsoft I loved reading the insightful and highly witty and intelligent rants against both.

what I didn't like: It is not exactly a page turner until Bernadette disappears.

verdict: It's an epistolary novel which means it is constructed of all different kinds of letters, mails and interviews.. First hard to grab I found myself liking troubled Bernadette a lot and towards the end really wanted to find out what had happened to her. It's an unusual book and definitely not for everyone but give it a try if you like quirky characters.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Being Giuseppe Williams...

...or being  Leon Campbell. Being 18...or being 83. Switching my gender as I switch my nationality. That's what I have been doing for 3 days over the last months now.
You wonder where this magic trick is possible? It's Heathrow airport, or to be more precise, on trial days for the new build terminal 2 which will be opening in June 2014. Until then the processes are tested by volunteers. I signed up and was immediately accepted which made me quite happy as I never stood a chance when Terminal 5 was opened six years ago.

The first and second time I was pretending to be a passenger that has to check-in. I went through various scripts, sometimes I was an old Japanese guy flying to Tokyo, another time I had to pretend to be a young Irish woman flying to Paris with overweight baggage.

staff: Good morning Sir! Where are you flying with us today"
me: Umm...hmmm...(checking my script)...ah...Corfu!"

Once I got a script involving two people and ended up doing the check-in round with another man which, after we quickly read our adjoined scripts turned put to be my grandfather...from Africa...and I was his grandson. It is quite funny to stand at the buffet afterwards introducing a complete stranger to your husband as your grandfather!

Last time was the biggest trial yet with 1400 poeple taking part in total. After some issues with my visitor pass I was "landing" on a flight from Duesseldorf (on the first day of the opulent Lufthansa strike...oh the irony) and eventually picking up my one piece of hold luggage before filling in my feedback forms.
It's fun, it's slightly absurd, it's entertaining, it's important (well, at least a teeny tiny bit), it's exciting to see the huge variety of people taking part and it's nice to get goodie bags and as much free food and drink as you want.

I simply love airports and could waste entire days just sitting somewhere with a coffee and something to write and just watch, soak up the atmosphere, dream and feel inspired, motivated and happy.
When studying in Mainz I often took the train to the airport instead of home when uni finished early and spend a few hours at McDonalds watching the planes go by while writing in my diary.

As someone who probably doesn't qualify as a proper frequent flyer compared to some business people, airport convienience and practicability is nevertheless something close to my heart. I have been member of the customer panel of Frankfurt airport for years and since then I cannot walk through a terminal without looking out for illogical signage, trip hazards or bad service.Looking forward to more trials to come!

If you are interested then have a look here and maybe it's not too late yet to sign up for the last big trials in May.

Friday, 4 April 2014

"everyday" (part 13)

 26. March - 1. April

26.3. baked my first ever Hefezopf/Osterbrot...and it worked! Never again will I buy one
27.3. been to theatre to see "Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny" in Wiesbaden
28.3. ordered no 15 (vegetable thai red curry) at Chi Chi Thai...right now my absolute favourite cheap and cheerful Thai restaurant in Frankfurt
29.3. learned how much excitement a close friend in labour can cause and how emotional even I can get
30.3. seen "Franz Ferdinand" live on stage in Wiesbaden, was a stunning gig! Listening to their cd´s ever since...
31.3. flying British Airways with handluggage only as I got the booking wrong...doesn´t matter, saved me money and time
1.4. went to the newly opened BHS foodstore in Staines...and think it´s unneccesary

Was will ich und wenn ja, wie viele?

Autor: Felicitas Pommerening
erschienen: 2014

Inhalt: Mama sein wollte Lotta schon, seit sie fünf ist - und jetzt, endlich, steht der filmreifen Mutterkarriere nichts mehr im Wege. Doch da kommt aus heiterem Himmel eine Riesen-Jobchance, die sie total verwirrt: Was wird denn jetzt aus ihrer Familienplanung? Ihre beste Freundin Andrea dagegen liebt nichts so sehr wie ihre Arbeit. Na ja, direkt danach kommt auch schon Bastian, ihr Freund. Obwohl…sind sie eigentlich schon richtig zusammen? Sie ist sich noch unsicher, dabei hat er schon vom Heiraten gesprochen! Das Konzept der biologischen Uhr war ihr bisher vollkommen fremd. Mit Anfang dreißig muss man sich endlich entscheiden… Oder vielleicht doch nicht?

was mir gefallen hat: Alle vorgestellten Frauen sind in meinem Alter, ich kenne alle verschiedenen Typen und setze mich unweigerlich selbst aus ihnen zusammen. Frau kann sich beim Lesen in vieles reinversetzen.

was mir nicht gefallen hat: Auch wenn das Lesen von permanentem Kopfnicken begleitetet ist, so ist man am Ende doch so schlau wie vorher. Klar, ich erwarte nun keinen Ratgeber an dessen Ende einem das Geburtsdatum der eignenen zukünftigen Kinder genannt wird aber irgendwie...irgendwie ist dies mehr Bestandsaufnahme als Denkanstoß und damit unterhaltsam aber nicht wirklich hilfreich. Was ich persönlich etwas langweilig fand, waren die vielen Seiten gefüllt mit Schilderungen des täglichen Berufsalltags.

Fazit: Nettes Buch, gut geschrieben, sehr ansprechend für Damen wie mich die erschreckt feststellen alt zu werden und sich trotzdem nur schwer als Mutter vorstellen können...aber kein psychologischer Ratgeber (gut, will das Buch ja auch gar nicht sein)