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Sunday 19 September 2010

Cloud watching in Norfolk






The autumnal break is not over

I can not be as sure as Andrew is, over on Conductive World, that my break from blogging is over, but my three-weeks' holiday certainly is. It is back to work tomorrow, although I do not seem to have stopped working since I left Nürnberg at the end of August.

A working holiday

It has certainly been a working-holiday, and even in parts a busman’s! I am not complaining, but I do wish sometimes that I were the sort of person to go on holidays in exotic, faraway places, and could relax just a little bit in the sun.

I have been spending my time in a makeshift office at my home-from-home, doing things that self-employed conductors have to do, things that we have to do while not at "work”.

Apart from sorting out,writing reports, sending invoices and filling in tax forms, there is also preparation for immediate work, sorting out the work-timetable for the next six months and of course the presentation for Hong Kong to finish. I am almost up to date, but still there is little time to spare for meeting friends and blogging.

Between all this work I managed two cuddles with my great-niece, one walk on the beach with my oldest friend, a shopping trip with my sister, two cups of coffee with two newer friends, some phone calls with others, and lots and lots of gardening.

The cuddles and smiles from Aimee are as always a treat that I cherish during the months between my visits.

The walk on the beach with my oldest friend is a ritual of all my visits to Norfolk,. Sometimes we manage two. It is has become a very important link to Norfolk and something that I hate to miss. Phone calls or cups of coffee with other friends help to keep my links to "home“ alive.

The shopping trip with Sis was the one that is essential to all Brits living abroad, a quick whizz around Norwich to get all those essentials that I cannot live without. I had to forfeit the usual slow walk to all my old haunts. The walk to places like "Head-in-the-Clouds“ where I always bought my flat leather hippy-sandals as a teenager and still love to rummage around in its pot pourri of oddities that have become familiar to me over the years of travel. As a fourteen-year- old buying slipper-socks from Afghanistan with my mum it was a very strange, exotic and wonderful world for us both.

My sister and I were visiting shops like Marks & Spencer. This is, I read, where one-in-four ladies in Britain buy their ,underwear. I am no different and when I was there it was crowded, perhaps that was due to the advertising campaign in the Sunday papers for the new lines that have recently appeared on the shelves. I tried some of them on, but decided not to part with my money!

Another shop on the list is Waterstone’s which nowadays, after all the credit-crunching, is about the only large book store in the city centre. In the book store I had another underwear mission. Not for me this time but for my littlies in Germany. I was after the new Aliens and Underpants book. Certainly a "must" for Brits abroad!

I found the book, and what’s more it was a two-for-the-price-of-one offer! So I came away also with a new copy of the first book about dinos and underpants, this time complete with a CD.

Although I was a bit surprised by this offer in a book shop I have got used to coming across such things in the supermarket. On this trip to England I came face-to-face all the time with posters and signs offering me more than I really wanted, for almost less than I thought I would spend on things that I did not know I needed!

The gardening was the reason that I took the unfinished work to England instead of doing it at home in Nürnberg.

I did sort of shifts. I sat at my card-table desk, the jigsaw table from my childhood, in my Mum’s room, that is full of her treasures and memories. I typed away surrounded by happy memories and looked out into the lovely garden until I could resist it no longer. I took a break in the gorgeous summer sun under gorgeous Norfolk skies, with their characteristic flat bottomed clouds and pulled out heaps of weeds.

Weeds are the bane of my father’s life at the moment!

As always on my September holidays in Norfolk I was blessed with weeks of the gorgeous sunny, but cool, days of late summer. Some were windy days with flat-bottomed clouds hanging heavy with a shower in the sky, then came blue skies and rainbows.

My Father and I, together with our lovely neighbour, are planning how to make the three- quarters-of-an acre garden easier for all three of us to manage.

I helped with cutting the lawn for the first time ever! I was only allowed to do half of it, an area about the area of just one tennis court. I was surprised to feel the sweat dripping down my face in the same way that I have witnessed on my Dad when he was doing the same job for over forty years. It was hard work but lovely to see all those stripes at the end.

The next step is making half of the enormous vegetable plot into a wild flower garden. I removed the huge weeds in preparation for the digging that the neighbour will do over the next few weeks. The digging will not be hard. I dug the entire patch thoroughly last autumn as preparation for the planting of shallots. It will be done again in an attempt to get rid of the bind weed that my mother had in control but never really got on top of.

Homeward bound

I began to write this posting on the plane when the working holiday was coming to an end, while I was flying above the gorgeous clouds wondering where the time had gone. I feel like I have been in England forever and I realise that I have actually done quite a lot when I begin to list it all in the way that I do with the children on their "Things to tell Mama“ lists.

But was it a holiday? Will I feel refreshed when I get up at six on Monday morning and will I jump on my bike or crawl on to the tram?

The language

On the plane I was wondering how I would manage to start speaking German, every word of which disappears when I am in the green and pleasant land.

No worries on that count I was thrown in the deep end. Both of my girlie friends phoned me on Saturday to welcome me back and one suggested I join her and two of her friends at the local Vietnamese restaurant. I had difficulties understanding them when it was noisy, I had difficulties finding words to join in their conversations, but as I was happy to sit silently and listen it did not matter. It also did not matter when I put in an English word now and again; it was too noisy for them to notice.

I have spent the weekend trying to get used to being alone again, unpacking, washing and trying to finish the work before the next work piles up.

I have been practicing my German again this afternoon which I hear now has an even broader Norfolk accent then before. I have been practising in readiness for the now six-language Kindergarten Petö group that starts in the morning. Some kind of international sign language would probably be better suited, so I had better get the paints out.

I have taken a break. I am in the Cafè Fatal for the last few hours of Sunday sun and holiday. I may even get onto the hot-spot and post this from here.

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