Tuesday, 4 November 2014

What happened to October?

Stunning autumn colour in Germany
The University library, Leuven

Where did October go?

Oh I know.  There was a work trip to Amsterdam (fun), a family funeral (not so fun), a couple of three-line whip family events.... oh, and half the month was taken up with a bloody two week half term. That was what happened.

I'm really not sure about these two week half terms. (It's a private school: as my friend says, the more you pay for education in this country, the less you get). It feels like we're starting a whole new term now, and it's going to take everyone at least a week to get back into the whole routine.

As I was working for most of half-term, it wasn't exactly relaxing, involving either a) rushing the boys from one activity to the next while trying to fit in work or b) working with them in the house and having to fend off constant cries of "Can I write a story on your computer?" which seems to be their new favourite activity. I'm all for budding authorship, but I don't really want my Mac overtaken with stories called things like "Lord of the Pigs."

However, we did manage a four day trip to Germany, to stay with our lovely German friends from New York days, who we haven't seen since 2012. Apart from seeing them, which was the main thing, there was a a trip to the Chocolate Museum in Cologne, which kept both adults and kids amused, a stunning, autumnal hike to a castle, and an evening at a superb swimming pool, which had slides, various pools and best of all, a massive outdoor hot pool (the Germans do this kind of thing very well). We also ate a lot of sausages, potato salad and cake (the Germans do that well too. But November will be diet month). The boys also got to go to a German school for an hour, with our friend's son; they took part in an English lesson in which they apparently refused to say very much about Halloween.

On the way back, we stopped at Leuven, which is a beautiful University town in Belgium, full of gothic architecture, bookshops, bars and pubs-- a bit like the Belgian version of Oxford.  I hadn't been there since a school trip when I was 17 and everyone rushed off to smoke Camel cigarettes and drink Stella Artois (we were supposed to be looking round the town, but honestly, what did the teachers really think we were doing?). I also remember at the time that "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" was number one in the charts, and we went around singing "You've Lost That Leuven Feeling.". Oh, how witty we thought we were......

Now, it's back to the grindstone again. Littleboy 1 has just been asked to learn the capitals of all the EU countries for a test next Monday. I do not even know the capitals of the EU countries, so I don't have high hopes for him being able to remember, say Ljubjlana. He still thinks the Prime Minister is called David Beckham, so I don't think names are his strong point.

Talking of which, if we do end up leaving the EU, I think I would have preferred Beckham as the Prime Minister.....


Iota said...

Well, you had a lovely October. I agree re two-week half terms, by the way.

I don't think I could even name all the countries in the EU, let alone their capitals. Such a fall from my former glory days, when I worked for DFID, and could name the capitals of lots of obscure developing world countries without hesitation.

Trish Burgess said...

Lovely to see Amsterdam popping up in your half term too. I would love to go back again after our short visit.
Lots of cake in Germany sounds good to me and I'm glad you didn't lose that Leuven feeling.

MsCaroline said...

Ha - I remember a trip to The Hague for Model United Nations when I was in school in Germany - we did the same thing, except we weren't witty enough to adapt a song. I very much doubt that I could name all the EU countries myself. Keep in mind, though, I am so old that there were still 2 Germanies and a Czechoslovakia (not Czech and Slovak Republics, much less all those other tiny independent fragmented countries) when I was learning them all.

Knackered Mother said...

Sounds lovely, esp. the Chocolate Museum. And cake. One week was enough, not sure how you managed two!

Nota Bene said...

I'm not sure I even know all the countries in the EU, let alone their capitals...you did have a busy October..