16 November 2007

Saint Martin's Day

11 November is not only the anniversary of armistice day and the start of the carnival season in Germany but also Saint Martin's Day. The legend of Saint Martin sharing his riding cloak with a beggar is used to teach German children the value of sharing. On and around this day children in Germany make their own lanterns and go from door to door singing special St Martin songs. Normally they receive sweets as a reward for their efforts. So you could say that it's a friendly form of trick or treating. A lot of schools, kindergartens, villages and cities also organise a St Martin's parade. Some picture's of the parade organised by the Bismarckschule, Krefeld I have embedded at the end of this post. Just click on the picture to be taken to the webalbum.

Martinszug Bismarckschule

17 October 2007

Sorry for the long break

Hi guys,

sorry that I haven't posted for such a long time but things were getting a bit too much here at Rink headquarters:

But now I am ready to go and post non-messages regularly again.

As I haven't got any new pictures to post (I had to borrow Thomas my camera as his has gone to the big autofocus in the sky) I have just embedded another video of the world's sexiest lexicographer, Erin McKean.

A busy time ahead:

University will start next week and I am teaching two courses on the side, one grammar and one on 2nd language acquisition.

I am involved in a learning partnership with three European partners, so I will travel to Utrecht at the end of the month. There I will hopefully be able to convince our partners that Moodle is the tool of choice for our communication.

Ah and yes, my main job. A couple of things happening at the college. Our drive to attract younger people is in full swing and I am working on that with a project group. Demographic change will mean that the college will have to restructure internally and a paper charting possible changes till 2012 is sure to lead to heated discussion. Together with two colleagues we are also trying to realise a project funded by the European Social Fund. Not an easy task when you're low on resources, rooms and teachers...

Other projects in the pipeline are training sessions on Moodle for all teachers at the college, a workshop on Web 2.o in teaching and lobbying for a breeding programme to save the future of the Morecambe Bay Shrimp Hound...

You see I am a busy Kraut.

PS: Erin, you are allowed to use this text for any purpose you like ;-)

20 September 2007

Which instrument should you have learnt?

Apparently I Should Play the Saxophone:

You are charismatic, friendly, and very uninhibited.
You have a lot of personal expression to bring your music.

Improvisational and informal, you can't deal with an instrument that has too many rules or complexities.
You are much more interested in creating unique solos than immersing yourself in music theory.

You have a lot of style, and you definitely are one smooth operator.
And while you may not play perfectly, no one's going to accuse you of being boring.

Your dominant personality characteristic: being very outgoing

Your secondary personality characteristic: your flair for the unique and dramatic

09 September 2007

British Days in Castle Linn

Today we spent a lovely albeit cloudy morning at Castle Linn which hosted this year's British Days in Krefeld.

Although the country fair was advertised as "British Days at Burg Linn" the stalls featured soap from Marseille, cheese from Austria and clothing from Australia. However it was avery nice fair with lots of the kinds of little things that Sue likes. I'm sure that Nathe would have been more interested in the falconry display. The only stuff we bought though were some spices I need for my curries and a cross stitch kit for Annette.

03 September 2007

Back to school

to all of you going back to school today: "Have a good start". I know it's hard going back after six weeks off but just think of all the little eager minds that want to be filled with knowledge ;-) Shame that school isn't out for ever...

31 August 2007


Perhaps it's because I am a language geek or because of her cute glasses, but Erin McKean really makes lexicography sexy. And you learn an awful lot of fun stuff about dictionaries. What do you think?

30 August 2007

Anti-Telesales Script

The tele marketer counter script found on lifehacker.com is for all those of you who want to follow a caring approach to tele-salespeople, but nevertheless want to get rid of them.

Vic has found though that "I'd rather staple my scrotum to the dining room table than continue our conversation" does the trick as well.

Powered by ScribeFire.

12 August 2007

Back at work

and what a shock to the system. The start of our enrolement weeks means staying till 7.30pm on most nights and since I am involved in several projects about to be launched soon, there are 101 things to do. Also I had to mark exams and essays for the university job.

There are good news as well though. All my linguistics students have passed their exam, the weather has improved and we can spend a lot of time in the garden (our most glamourous visitor so far can be seen in the picture).

Lichfield Mercury 2 August 2007

I've been meaning to post this for a long time and never got round to doing it. The letter below (Lichfield Mercury, 1 August 2007, click picture to enlarge) illustrates brilliantly the difference between English and German newspapers. I doubt that the Mülheimer Wochen or Essen's Südanzeiger would have printed this. I absolutely love the letter as it at least provides the victim with some valve for their anger.

I hope the thieving illegitimate sons of female dogs have been caught and that Mr or Mrs Sawyer had their stuff returned.

(Lichfield Mercury, 1 August 2007)

28 July 2007

More Sun

Not very warm, but a welcome respite from all that rain!

Time to try out the boomerang Hella gave Nathan. After some time we actually managed fairly well. We're still glad however that we just have to walk into a superstore to get some meat. If we had to hunt for it Aborigine-style, we'd have turned vegetarian by now.

Apparently the sunshine today has just been a brief interlude as the forecast looks pretty grim, especially for those regions hit by the floods.

Let's hope the meteorologists are as precise as always and we'll end up with decent weather.
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24 July 2007

Sun at last

Having finished the Harry Potter, Annette agreed to come to Nottingham with me- a city we both really like. Unfortunately our sunny day in Notts will be the only one this week as the weather forecast looks quite grim. In the pictures you can see the reasons why Nathan and Sue would probably quite like Nottingham: there's a Big Wok all you can eat Asian buffet place and Nottingham is one of the very few places in England to sport a tram system.
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23 July 2007

The Barretts

Despite the unpromising weather report we spent a superb day today with the Barrets. After a wonderful lunch -typically British: mixed antipasti (olives, grilled courgettes, houmous, garlic bread), salmon, raspberry pie- we went for a nice walk along the canal in Alrewas before returning home to just chill and read. The weather worsened in the late afternoon and so we had the perfect excuse to laze about and keep on reading. Annette has half-finished the latest Harry Potter, which Little Rink and Tina left as a surprise on our doorstep in the middle of the night after buying it at The Mayersche book store in Essen as soon as the sale started.

21 July 2007

Holidays back home

After a reasonably smooth journey we have arrived safe and sound in Lichfield.

All in all it took us nearly 11 hours for the 440 miles. Had we been more daring, we could have done it in 9, but our worry to miss the ferry made us leave so early that we had two hours to spare. So we took a long break in Belgium and before the Channel crossing.

One thing is sure however: had we left later we wouldn't have seen Herbie on our way to Dunkirk. Luckily no section of our route was affected by the flooding which has submerged large parts of the Midlands and so we were only delayed by the M1 roadworks.

Arriving at the Greenhouse is always wonderful. There is something magic about this place: the old police house, the wonderful garden with its vegetable patch and massive apple tree and the wheat field that stretches from the back garden to the horizon.

16 July 2007

Rear Window

Unlike in the 1954 Hitchcock movie our spying neighbour is not wheelchair-bound, but apparently just as bored as James Stewart. It doesn't her take seconds to be at the window or on her balcony to follow our every move as soon as we are in the garden. And this is quite a feat for a nonagenarian. However it's driving me up the wall. I've never met anybody as nosy as this woman. And today I provided quite nice entertainment for the old biddy:
  • stripping paint of our garden bench
  • reading in the shade
  • moving our peonies to make space for the bamboo we were given on our wedding day
  • planting the bamboo
  • having a glass of wine
Summer would be so nice if it wasn't for this methusalean spy. Well, at least our jumbo sized parasol provides us with some privacy, otherwise it would be unbearable. Sometimes however it can be good fun to quickly look up towards the window and see her flinch back. You can play this game four or five times before she moves to a new observation post. And the other neighbours enjoy watching Big Sister walking backwards and forwards on her balcony desperately trying to peek underneath the parasol.

Big Sister is watching you

23 June 2007

True 80s child

Your Taste in Music:

80's Alternative: High Influence
80's Pop: Medium Influence
90's Alternative: Medium Influence
Adult Alternative: Medium Influence
Classic Rock: Medium Influence

13 June 2007

Grönemeyer concert in Bochum

What would we have given for this view... We went to see Herbert Grönemeyer, one of the most successful German singers, in Gelsenkirchen's Schalke Arena last weekend. The football fans amongst you will know that the Schalke stadium is massive and together with about 55,000 other fans we witnessed a superb concert with lots of audience participation. Should any of my former A-level students read this, they will surely remember the songs "Alkohol" and "Bochum" , which were just two of the classics Herbert performed during the 3 hour show.

I already hinted at the start that our view was far from perfect as we were standing quite far away. We knew that before, however we counted on Schalke's famous video cube which normally gives you close-ups of whatever is happening, be it penalties or concerts. Well, so much for Germany technology, precisely at the start of Herbert's performance the cube decided to go on a more persistent strike than any French air-traffic controler would be able to maintain. Two people allegedly tried to fix it during the whole show but to no avail. Therefore we just had to trust that the person on stage was actually Herbert. Judging by the reaction of the audience a bit closer to the action it must have been though. Otherwise the countless LaOla waves going round the stadium would not be explicable.

The pic was taken by gnibert by the way. Thanks for allowing non-commercial use.

01 June 2007

5 years ago...

... I re-met Annette at Charlotte and Olli's wedding (happy anniversary, by the way!). I already knew Annette from my time at school but being a year below her I probably was small fry in these days.

Who would've thought that three years later we would tie the knot and decide to walk side by side on this jouney of life? A bit scary to think that 5 years have already passed. However those five years definitely make me want more.

And what better way to celebrate the anniversary than being in college on late duty? Hooray!

31 May 2007

Peace, man!

Or not? This index makes interesting reading. The authors have created an index of "peacefulness" of a nation based on indicators such as trust towards fellow citizens, deployments of troops abroad, crime, etc. I was surprised to see the UK way behind Germany, but when reading the indicators (particularly deployment of troops) it became clear why this is the case.

You Are 71% Peaceful

You are a very peaceful person. All is good in your world, no matter what's going on.
Occasionally you let your problems get to you, but you generally remain upbeat.
Your inner strength is inspirational - much more so than you may realize.

Have a peaceful weekend!

18 May 2007


I never used to like olives till I met Annette, but apparently
I am Olive Green

You are the most real of all the green shades. You're always true to yourself.
For you, authenticity and honesty are very important... both in others and yourself.
You are grounded and secure. It takes a lot to shake you.
People see you as dependable, probably the most dependable person they know.

17 May 2007

Ascension Day

Just to rub it in to all British readers of this blog: I'm having a day off today! Neh, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh.

Ascension Day

13 May 2007

ESC, College and Blue Men

And again the Brits didn't manage. Hadn't it been for Ireland and Malta, you would have achieved the only graceful result possible in the ESC: nil points! Well, there is always somebody to spoil it for you...

I had the questionable honor today to represent the college all day during our open weekend, which which would have meant sitting around bored out of my skull till all courses have finished. Luckily, my colleague Judith relieved me of my duties as she had some business to finish at the college anyway.

In the evening Annette, Martin, Katrin and I went to see the Blue Man group in Oberhausen. Martin got free tickets and I have to say that I would have been annoyed with the show had we had to pay. In my opinion the show wasn't particularly spectacular, original or funny. It was an entertaining evening but considering that the cheapest tickets are around €40 it's not worth it. The attached video message by the blue men is very relevant however!

Oh by the way, you can listen to the soundtrack of my life by starting the player on the left...

25 April 2007

Hard at Work

What a week! The college's course programme had to be completed, my classes at the university of Bochum have started and on Saturday I started training 10 language teachers in using the online learning environment Moodle.

It's great to be teaching at the university again. Due to my classes running on Fridays I have very small groups and both classes are in English linguistics, so that I am able to teach my pet subject. I have decided to accompany the classes with Moodle and so far the students have accepted this format very well. It allows me to post all material needed as well as giving the students the opportunity to work towards their credit points online by completing activities and showing collaborative research. This also means that I can put a lot of the ideas I got during the moodle07 conference into practice (the pic on the right was taken there).

Saturday's kick-off session of my Moodle seminar for teaching staff at the college also went very well. Most teachers seem to see the value of supporting their language classes online. I am sure we will have some courses piloting this new way of teaching in the coming semester.

Just one day of work tomorrow before the Bank Holiday on 1 May. Thomas, Tina, Annette and I are going to see Spiderman 3 tomorrow and we'll probably have a quiet day in the garden on Tuesday, if our nosy neighbour won't bother us too much that is. Well, it's gotten a lot better since we set up a massive parasol blocking her view...

20 April 2007

Easter Holidays

How quickly did these holidays fly past? We had only just broken up for Easter when we had to go back to work, or so it seems.

It's been a brilliant holiday. We went to Paris at the start of the holidays and had an excellent time there. Having been there so many times now we didn't stress so much about seeing the sights and just wandered around wherever it took our fancy. A visit to the Place des Vosges (Victor Hugo's address and definitely not a place to be miserable) and a wander round the Marais is always a must. Since I had never been to Père Lachaise cemetery we went there as well and Oscar's headstone convinced me of the Improtance of being Wilde.

On our return from France Vic delivered Nathan who stayed with us for a week. I think I can speak for all of us when I say what a terrific time we had. A highpoint seems to have been the head massage device and going on the trams for Nathan. Not to forget our card playing marathons...

Last weekend I escorted Nathan back to England and stayed one night at the Greenhouse before meeting up with Liz and Rob, who proudly showed off his Lotus to me. I'm quite jealous actually, but there is no way I could drive it. People being able to afford luxury sports cars apparently tend to be vertically challenged.

The last week has been pretty busy with the new course programme having to be entered till next Thursday. Lots of stuff still to be organised before the new language courses can be published in our course calendar. But I'll get there. Have an excellent weekend!

12 April 2007

17 March 2007

Chicken Dhansak

Some time ago I wrote about things I'm missing about England. Today it was time for a curry again and wanting to extend my repertoire I found an excellent recipe for Chicken Dhansak. It is easy to cook and tastes just like in a curry house.

Annette made some Raita to go with the Naan and the added green food dye created the true nuclear green we all love from the Indian restaurants.

So we are absolutely stuffed now, ready to veg out on the couch.

A very good day on the whole: curry, me being able to find a pair of jeans that fit me, not having to pay for a battery replacement and watch polish at Oberhausen's Swatch Store and most importantly of all talking to Nathan. Shame about the weather, but that meant I had an excuse for staying in bed till noon and reading my new John Harvey novel, "Flesh and Blood", which I can really recommend!

02 March 2007

I'm a happy man

Alice Cooper has just announced the upcoming release of his new album "Along came a spider" as well as the next world tour. Whoooopeee! The featured interview gives the release date as well as some more evidence of what a nice guy the Coop is. Being able to freely admit to being an alcoholic must really take some bottle (couldn't resist this well-worn pun ;-) )

22 February 2007

100 Jobs

Warning! The blog featured in this post is highly addictive and may well waste a good deal of your time.

Now this makes an interesting and highly entertaining read. Oliver Davies created this blog in September 2006 after having been turned down for numerous jobs he applied for. Well, having applied for jobs he was perfectly qualified to do, he decided to up the ante and apply for jobs he quite clearly is not qualified to do and see if this is anymore successful. The amusing results of his experiment can be read here .

100 Jobs

14 February 2007

12 February 2007

Bill Walker

A very sad day for me personally and the University of Bochum. Bill Walker has died having been seriously ill for some time.

Bill was the man who first aroused my interest in linguistics and without his introduction to linguistics peppered with his dry wit I never would have studied linguistics or would have worked at the University. Later, when he became a colleague of mine -well I should say when I became a colleague of his- I have always known him to be helpful and willing to give advice to the new member of the department. We never did work out how much beer you'd need to fill up the seminar room up to the window sill and we never went out for that drink. I wish we had...

08 February 2007

Web 2.0

For all of you who want to know what web 2.0 is all about here's an excellent video giving a brief but thought-provoking introduction by Prof Michael Wesch ...

07 February 2007

Get Your Coat - You've pulled!

To all you gorgeous, slim yet curvaceous, intelligent women out there. My brother in law Sebastian (not yet 30, fit, handsome, virile and a medical doctor) is still available.

Any fit girls with a serious interest please leave a comment and I'll make sure to pass it on.

02 February 2007

More Tea, Vicar?

When walking past this tea shop in Essen it occurred to me that considering that tea is Britain's most favourite drink, there do not seem to be many specialist tea shops around.

In Germany several chains operate tea shops selling your ordinary breakfast blend and Earl Grey, but also specialist teas such as white tea, green tea and a multitude of fruit infusions.

The main difference between tea drinking in Germany and England seems to be the ceremony involved with drinking tea in Germany. "Want a cuppa?" , wouldn't do for an offer in Germany. You'd have to list the different teas you have and don't you ever think of using tea bags. It has to be loose tea. That's why we own the contraption shown in the second picture. Admittedly, it is the Rolls Royce of tea pots but something similar can be found in most German households.

Don't get the wrong idea though, the majority of Germans (me included) will always choose coffee when offered a drink. In fact, I suppose coffee is the German tea. Whereas having proper coffee is still something special in England, the ceromony involved in having tea in Germany suggests that German coffee is English tea and vice versa.

28 January 2007

My dad in marzipan

It was my dad's birthday last Friday and his mate from work gave him this specially made birthday cake. The cake depicts some of my dad's passions (religion, philosphy, sauna, cigars) and the sculpture of him sitting in the sauna and smoking a cigar is very true to life (although he would of course never ever smoke a cigar while actually being in a sauna!).

My mum probably wishes he was always this sweet!

26 January 2007

My old car on Google Earth

If you look very closely (or you enlarge the image by clicking on it) you can see my old infamous Union Flag Polo. It has been scrapped in the meantime but in Google Earth (Coordinates are 51°27'58.41'' N 6°54'05.17'') it lives on!

This car served me well through the longest part of my stay in Staffordshire and ran well above 130,000m without any major repairs. It didn't even need any major work done after it jumped off the road into a big heap of horse crap. Well that taught me not to drive Schumacher-Style (Ben still thinks that little accident was an amateur job)

I also learned how to service a car on it (thanks to Vic!) and got my hands dirty doing so (a very rare event!).

It also survived a vicious attack on Lichfield's Aldi car park when some illegitimate son of a female dog threatened to bash my head in and instead knocked its little wing mirror off (the b***ard was caught and sentenced by the way).

I sometimes miss the old banger, although I can't remember how I actually managed to fit in it.

How about you? Any pics of your belongings on Google Earth? Is there a car that you really miss?