My visitors today

Sunday 20 May 2012

The 13th Blaue-Nacht

The night was blue in Nürnberg

And, as it turned out after much excitement, in Munich too!

In Nürnberg this Saturday was the night when my hair turns blue hair, lamps in the city-centre cast blue rays on the visitors and buildings, and the night when many museums and cultural centres offer special events, many staying open until the early hours of Sunday.
In Nürnberg it was Blaue-Nacht 2012:

In Munich, though, the blue was due to the Champion’s League final. Bayern Munich, in the red, was playing Chelsea, in the blue! 

By the time the final whistle blew after extra time, and after an exciting penalty shoot-out was over, the city of Munich was blue too, Chelsea-Blue!

There were not as many people as usual walking through Nürnberg's city streets this Blue Night, despite its being much warmer than it often is. There were, however, many large television screens in the pavement cafes and every seat was taken. 

As I walked from one street event to another I took a look now and then to see how the football score was progressing. The only roar to be heard when Chelsea equalised with only minutes to go came from the Irish Pub! That was the only place where I dared to let a smile cross my face.

Albrect Dürer

My favourite event of the evening was the ice sculpting duo who produced a replica of the Dürer Hase (Hare) from a huge block of ice –

Surrounding the ice-sculpting enclosure were blocks of ice in which products that are 'Made-in-Nürnberg' were frozen. There were pencils and pens from the various pencil manufacturers, ice-creams and, of course, toys. 

Many children of all ages were standing with their hands on the ice, melting the spot where they hoped to release their favourite coloured felt-pen. I wonder how many hours they had to wait until the ice melted enough to remove the objects held inside.

Relaxing outside the Ateleier Café

As always I ended the evening in what I consider to be my back-garden terrace listening to live music in my favourite café, Café in Atelier.


Champion League final

Other blue nights

Café im Atelier, Nürnberg

Monday 14 May 2012

Spontaneous learning!

And hours of non-stop laughter

Little Princess has the most amazing new shoes.

No laces to tie, no Velcro to gather fluff till it does not work any more, just a button at the back to pull, or to push, then turn, so that the heel opens up, or closes!

This state-of-the-art technology does not stop her however from attempting to tie laces.

She and Jolly Prof. stole Évi’s shoes on Friday afternoon. While Jolly Prof. filled one with nuts Little Princess tied the laces of the other as tightly as she could.

What fun! Even Évi saw the funny side!

Wednesday 9 May 2012

A sunny ride home

'That is me. Everyone says so.'

Little Princess made me smile all the way home!

She was so sweet today.

Littlie finished making her Mother’s Day present last Friday so when one of the other children went over to the cupboard this afternoon to get drawing paper she asked for some too.

It was a real treat to see these two children communicating so well,. Without our intervention both of them soon had a supply of coloured pencils and paper in front of them and they got on with their drawings while we helped the rest get their presents finished in time for Sunday, Mothering Sunday.

Both of the artists produced wonderful pictures. Little Princess’s helpful friend has never drawn a picture without destroying it after a few strokes. She often angrily screws the paper in to a ball or erases everything that she has drawn in frustration. There was none of this today and before we went home we hung her fairytale-castle picture on the door for all visitors and passers-by to see.

Beavering away

Little Princess was beavering away too, all alone at the end of the table.

Drawing, painting and being creative in many other ways are activities that this severely physically disabled little girl has learnt extremely well. During seven years’ working with me, the artist and art therapist conductor, she certainly has had plenty of opportunities to practice!

It is a special joy for me to see her getting on with it on her own just as it to see her more able friend helping out, being really jolly and enjoying her own creativity for once.

Knowing herself, as others know her

Before I knew it Littlie had drawn a gorgeous picture of the sun with a huge smile. She often draws the sun and sometimes a rainbow but these are usually very small, squeezed in a corner of her paper.

Today’s sun filled the page, although she had left just enough space to add a few words, something quite unusual in her drawings. She wrote –

‘Das bin ich’, That is me!

I said, ‘Yes, you certainly are our ray of sunshine!’

Then she wrote some more, ‘Sagen Alle’ Says everyone!

Yes, she is right we do all say that! She really is a ray of sunshine in the lives of many people, especially when she produces pictures like this one!

I was thrilled with it. I asked her whether she wanted to give it to someone special. thinking that she would want to give it too her Mum. 

How wrong could I be.

 ‘No’, she answered, loud and clear, and there came a big nod in reply when I asked – ‘Do you want to keep it for yourself?’

I have a supply of old frames in the cupboard, donated at some point long ago to the arty conductor. So I immediately fished one out and in the space of just a few minutes, my angel Évi had given the glass a wash, I had cut the paper to size and this gorgeous, spontaneous drawing was in a golden frame and had become a masterpiece worth a million sunny smiles!

There was just enough space in her basket on the bike for Littlie to take it home immediately, but not before I snapped a photograph!

This was a moment that will never be forgotten, a moment that produced a sunny journey home for us all despite the looming black storm-clouds in the distance.

What joy it must give Littlie too to be able to say with such confidence – ‘That’s me, that big smiley sun, and everyone else says so too!’

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Upbringing and flowers

Presents for friends

Recently I spend five Euros on some flowering plants as a small present for my friend. She can plant them in her garden or in pots on her large patio. I had not seen this friend for a long time and I wanted to bring her something that would last, and plants for the garden are always a hit with her, just as they are with many of my friends.

Presents for myself

On the way home from work on Friday I took my time. It was warm, still twenty-five degrees at six in the evening, with no wind. I stopped every now and then to pick some of the hedgerow flowers. 

Once, last year, I counted over twenty different species of flower as I whizzed along the cycle track! Unfortunately I could name them all only in English. I know only a few of the names in German and Hungarian but many of their English names are embedded in my memory since childhood when their strangeness evoked such wonderful images in my mind. Toadflax was always a favourite, with ragged-robin, old-man’s-beard and dog-rose all following close behind, probably because of their association with other living creatures.


This morning as I looked at those flowers that I had picked for myself I thought about the peaceful minutes in the evening sunshine after work that I had spent collecting them, I also pondered on the nice hours that I had spent with my friend. Then I started to think about upbringing. I thought about upbringing in general and about my own upbringing and how it influences my work and, of course, my private life.

It is what I do. It is how I was brought up!

I picked flowers from the hedgerows for myself because that is what I do. 

I have always picked wild flowers; and now I own the vase in which my Grandmother always placed my offering of red-dead-nettle, the only flower that grew between our house and hers! 
My sister always used to tell me to hurry along and stop picking weeds. I never did hurry and I never arrived empty-handed!

When my Mum was alive she always placed her own special vase on the kitchen window sill, ready for my arrival, and now my Dad does the same once he had learnt that that is what I like to do.

Mum knew that soon after my arrival I would make my first walk in the garden and soon there would be a few daisies, a buttercup, a bluebell or even red-dead-nettle, beaming at her from her vase as she washed the dishes! She knew because that is what I do, that is what she taught me to do, to pick wild flowers! 

Mum not only taught me how a few wild flowers in the right vase look really pretty, she also taught me all their names, she taught me which ones were rare and should not be picked, and she taught me not to go mad, to pick all of them sparingly.

And that is what I do!

At home there was always an abundance of flowers, potted plants, seedling, little trees, and fruit, vegetables and wine made from homemade produce. There was always something at hand to wrap in a newspaper and take somewhere as a present. 

In my house there are paintings and handmade crafty things to take with me as gifts when I visit, but since I no longer have a garden there are no more plants or fruit and vegetable. 

That is why I sometimes spend a few Euros to buy my friend something for her garden.
It is what I like to do. That is how I was brought up!

What about my clients?

Do the children I work with collect wild flowers on the way to visit their grandmother? Do they grab a bunch of flowers from the garden to take to the Auntie or a neighbour who has a birthday? Do they learn the strange names of what my sister calls weeds, or smell the peculiar earthy smells on their fingers having picked them?

Perhaps some of them do, perhaps some of them like my sister, are not interested.

Perhaps some on them cannot for some reason but would really love to. Or perhaps they would really like help to do something else that was a natural part of my growing up but not theirs. Things like playing trains, swinging on a swing, looking at insects in the grass or the fish in the pond.

It is helping children in my groups to experience the sort of things that they perhaps otherwise would not get to know about, that makes all the hard work worthwhile. It is such a joy to see their faces as the box containing the toy train comes out, of the cupboard or when we all crawl around on the grass looking for a sign of life amongst what at ground level looks like a rainforest.

I hope one day when they are adults these children will also be able to say when involved in some favourite activity – 

‘That is what I like to do, it is how I am.

‘It is because of my upbringing.’