German as easy as ABC
Meißen, 26th of February
Imogène has become addicted to the Teletubbies in German and we try to tell her that Zeit für Winke-Winke, 'time for Tubbie bye-bye', is not a suitable replacement for Auf Wiedersehen! She now sings at least five nursery rhymes in German and I challenge any GCSE student back in Nottingham to recite Alle meine Entchen schwimmen auf dem See, 'all my little ducklings are swimming on the lake', as well as she does! Kingsley now reads independently in German and finished his first story book, having understood most of it. At his request, we've now been several times to see films in German. There is no other option here in Meißen, films from abroad are automatically dubbed, as on TV. He is starting to act as an interpreter for Anne and correcting us on our sächsischer Akzent, Saxon accent!
Czech hot chocolate in jail
We're getting into the German spirit and discover that Germans do have a sense of humour! Last week we went with some friends from Nottingham for a cup of hot chocolate in the Czech Republic - as you do! It turned out to be a kind of brown powder mixed with water. As a real chocolate addict and being so spoilt here in Germany, I was not impressed! As we cross the border back to Germany and show our passports, the border guard asks for my driving licence which I'd absent-mindedly left at home. After a 20-minute grilling session where I produce every possible piece of identification including my UK library card, I implore the guard not to let me rot in a Czech jail where I would have to drink Czech hot chocolate as a punishment. To my amazement he smiles, winks and says he'd better let me back into Germany so that I can enjoy real chocolate. Saved by chocolate and a German border guard with a sense of humour!
More winter fun
It is half term and we're enjoying a two-week break. Having fallen in love with the Erzgebirge mountains, we head south for the Czech border again for a treat in a very cosy hotel.I will apologise for sounding 'snow obsessed', as it features prominently in my diaries, but anyone who has experienced a real blizzard, where roads completely disappear, trees collapse because of the wind and weight of snow, will understand how it can make your journey to the mountains quite a memorable experience!
Our petrol gauge light is flashing frantically as we stop our car in front of a huge sign saying Straße gesperrt, road closed, and there is no Umleitung, diversion, sign anywhere. The children are starting to get restless and hungry. The tracks left by our car have been covered by the snow, in fact the whole road seems to have disappeared ... can anyone detect a hint of anxiety? Fortunately a car stops behind us and we jump out to ask the driver for any alternative route to the hotel. Our saviour has a really thick, strong Saxon accent but we manage to understand that die Brücke, the bridge, must have collapsed and that the only way out is through a detour that he knows well and that we only have to follow him.
Fortunately, the next day the weather is much more clement, even sunny, and we have a go at Schneetubing - a bit like bobsleighing on a big rubber ring - and Skiwanderung, cross-country skiing, all that for € 15 (£ 10), including equipment hire. There is definitely a democratisation of winter sports here that I have not experienced in Alpine resorts. After such active days, whilst the children sleep soundly in their beds, Anne and I indulge in a wonderfully relaxing Kräutersauna, herbal sauna, after which we run barefoot in the snow - but that's as far as we are prepared to go into Scandinavian extravagance!
Sent by: Frederic