Charred Burgers

English

storytime logo fall 2013This little story here happened just before Christmas and is the reason why I’m trying to stay away from the kitchen. I was just walking home from the gym when I heard an alarm in the distance. I was still quite far away from the house so I didn’t really pay attention to the sound. But as it got louder and I got closer to home, I was beginning to worry. But as I turned the corner, everything looked normal. The house looked quiet and there was nobody in sight.

1225769917616128498ossidiana_running_boy.svg.hiJust then the door burst open and Conor ran out of the house. He was running really fast and he was coughing violently at the same time. Thinking that Conor was acting a bit unusual but paying no further attention to his strange behaviour, I went into the house. But immediately, I saw a huge cloud of smoke coming my way from the general direction of the kitchen. So I turned around and went back outside and started looking for Conor.

I soon found him and he explained what happened. Margaret must have been cooking some burgers in the kitchen and then she must have left the kitchen unattended for just a couple of minutes. During this time the burgers must have caught fire.

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There is no fire alarm in the kitchen because the cooking fumes would cause too many false alarms. But as the fire got bigger and as the smoke clouds made their way into the living room, the fire alarm went off eventually.

fire_extinguisherThis is when Margaret finally realized that something was wrong and hurried back into the kitchen as quickly as possible. But she couldn’t do anything right away because the fire was already too big. Still somehow she must have managed to put out most of the fire before it caused any major damage.

Remember the incident where I had to throw the blender into the backyard? Well, this time it wasn’t me.

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Conor and I thought that the worst was over and after 15 minutes of standing and waiting for the smoke to clear, I made a bad decision. I tried to get back into my room. I held my breath and ran through the still heavy smoke up to the attic. The smoke was everywhere, not just in the kitchen and it seemed like my room was the worst place in the whole house. I held my hand in front of my face but I could not see it because of all the smoke. My room doesn’t have a door, so there’s no way to block out the fumes.

(For all the new followers who don’t know what my room looks like: here is a video)

I started to feel the lack of oxygen and had to cough and started to get the feeling that I was about to pass out. Just before that happened, I opened the window and leaned out, gasping for air. Once I had recovered a bit, I made my way to the other window in the room and opened that too.

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It took ages before the smoke finally cleared and I was able to close the windows again. With my lungs full of smoke and feeling really cold from the winter air, I went downstairs to check the kitchen. We were lucky, there wasn’t a big damage! Only the burgers were completely ruined.

I’m not making this incident up, this is exactly how it happened. And right after this I decided I wouldn’t cook any Swiss recipes for my host family for Christmas.

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Irish Christmas Reloaded

English

wolf-moon-artwork-1920x1200It was a typical freezing winter day in Ireland, the icy wind was blowing and everything was covered by heavy clouds of fog. It was still dark when I made my way to the bus station. The scenery reminded me of one of those classic B-movies where creatures of the night suddenly jump out of the fog and attack. A full moon was breaking through the clouds and the mood was strange and gloomy.

I could see the headlights of the bus approaching through the fog otherwise I might have missed it and would probably have been caught by a werewolf and dragged to some remote cave dwelling. They say that garlic can keep vampires away but a werewolf actually welcomes garlic because that way he can spice up his meal.

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Anyway, as soon as I passed the school doors I felt safe, because they lock up the school building during the day. They always tell us that those closed doors should prevent us from sneaking outside during class, but it’s probably also to keep strange creatures from entering the halls. Werewolves don’t carry school ID cards.

Download (1)Do you remember the King Lear essay I had to write at the end of the school term? Today as I was sitting in English class, I noticed a stack of these essays on my teacher’s desk.  Out teacher tells us that we still have to improve a lot and explains us our mistakes in details before she returns the graded essays. Whenever she talked about a mistake my first thought was: “Oh no, I think I did that too!” I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this. In the end, it turns out that I got a C1 which is a passing grade but not as good as I had hoped. The best grade was a B3, so I guess everyone had a a hard time with the difficult subject.

jackie-chan-wtf-meme-face-70958233396To make matters worse, the principal then announces the schedule for the January exams. They are going start two weeks from today and will cover everything we’ve learned so far in all subjects. The chemistry exam has been scheduled for next Friday. I guess I can say goodbye to another relaxing weekend. The holidays are well and truly over!

before_after_christmas_plaque-r3ec0fea7227e4a0eb599a0bbcf1249f4_ar56b_8byvr_324Speaking of holidays: As promised here is part two of story of Tim’s Irish Christmas. In this second part I’m going to tell you about the 25th of December and the actual Christmas day! What did you get for Christmas Tim? I got fat, that’s what I got, but also a few other gifts. I woke up at noon, walked downstairs where Margaret was already waiting for me with presents in her hand, presents for me! Unfortunately there was a condition I had to accept before she was willing to give me those presents. At first I thought that it couldn’t be that big of a deal and those presents were looking to nice to say no anyway.

The next thing I remember is sitting on the couch and being quite embarrassed. Why? The picture says it all. Do you notice the Christmas hat and the incredibly silly tie? I felt like Christmas clown. Of course, everyone else was also wearing a Christmas outfit so I was able to blend right in.

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Now that I was suitably dressed for the occasion, it was time to open the presents. I got a new cotton pyjama. Remember that my room is in the attic and that it can get a bit chilly especially during the winter season. So a warm pyjama is the perfect present. I also got a lot of chocolate and sweets.

WM7r3TiRemember my Blog post “Dreaming of an Irish Christmas” when I asked you for ideas for presents for my host family? Some of you have suggested baking or cooking for the family and actually that’s what I was planning to do. Unfortunately, we’ve had a small fire in the kitchen during the holiday. I swear, I had nothing to do with it this time! Remembering my own unfortunate accident with the mixer made me think twice about returning to the kitchen and the fire made me think that the kitchen might be cursed. So I decided on a different and more traditional present: Chocolate.

You should have seen me climbing down those stairs and carrying all the chocolate I bought. There are so many different types and flavours of chocolate that I decided to just buy them all:

toblerone-pieces-webToblerone, chocolate bars, chocolate gift boxes and more. I was the spirit of Chocolate Christmas… My Host-Family loves chocolate, so this was a very good idea. But I still ask myself how we were able to eat all this chocolate so fast.  A few days after Christmas everything was gone already! And that’s on top of everything else we ate that evening including the delicious Christmas dinner.

We started dinner at about three o’clock which was earlier than usual but there was so much to eat and so little time! There was so food, and I already felt full after the starter. It was so much that even two weeks after Christmas, I still get lunch sandwiches for school filled with Christmas ham. But I’m not complaining, in fact everything was absolutely delicious including the giant stuffed Christmas turkey.

After the Christmas dinner I couldn’t move for at least an hour, as I felt so full. And just when I thought I could not eat a single bite more, it was time for dessert: Christmas pudding! Robert had to set it ablaze with whisky first, which was an interesting experience. I know that I have some younger readers, so pleased kids don’t try this at home!

After this wonderful dinner we then went into the living room and watched some Christmas movies together. Every now and then one of us would head for the kitchen to get another round of dessert…

Here are some pictures of this memorable Christmas dinner.

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CLICK ON ME!

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Timcula, the Irish Vampire

English

During the holidays I usually stay up late, much later as when I have to go to school. I’m a nocturnal creature by nature, so as soon as night falls I become very active. After two weeks of holidays, it’s difficult to return to the daily routines.

Vampire_PNG_Clipart_PictureYes, I have to admit that I’m actually a vampire. I roam the streets of Dublin at night, looking for my next victim. I’ve made the switch from tomato smoothies over to the real red thing. The downside: People in the neighbourhood have recently started calling me “Timcula” and just the other day, a large group of people turned up unannounced and armed with pitchforks. They kept shouting “Down with Timcula”….

Ok, all this vampire talk is really just my imagination running wild, but the part about staying up late is very true. I stayed up late into the night and then usually slept just up until around lunchtime. Then I would stumble downstairs, bleary-eyed and drowsy and would treat myself to a late breakfast.

how-to-kill-a-vampireSo what did I do during these long nights? Two weeks after starting school again in Switzerland, I will have to pass an end-of-term math test. Let me bring this into perspective with another hilarious Dracula analogy: Failing this important test is similar to having a stake driven through your heart by Van Helsing and his goons. So my plan is to study each and every page of my Swiss math book, the whole 600 pages. It will take more than two weeks to complete this monstrous task, but I’ve made a good start. How did I come up with this plan? It was actually one of my New Year resolutions. I’m sure you’ve made your own New Years resolutions and are just dying to share them with me via the comments section!

garlic1It seems that I’m not the only vampire in town, as everyone at school today looked a bit pale and even the teachers looked like they were ready to bite someone’s head of. I kept some garlic in my pocket for protection and it worked. People stayed away from me but that might also have been due to the awful smell.

As promised, I now want to talk about the Irish Christmas, beginning with Christmas Eve (December 24th).

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In Switzerland I usually celebrate Christmas on the 24th but here it’s different. The Irish celebrate the real Christmas on the 25th of December. Technically, this is of course accurate but they are taking it so far as to have 25 doors on their advent calendars. In Switzerland, the last door on the calendar is number 24. But I prefer the Irish system because that way I get one more piece of chocolate.

vampireThe main celebration is on Christmas day but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate on Christmas Eve as well. Every family has their own Christmas traditions, some have dinner together (very common) others hunt for vampires in the woods (less common). My host family invited me to the traditional dinner at a nice restaurant. The restaurant is called “Joel’s” and it’s a fairly expensive place. The dinner went over several courses, starting with soup and bread and the followed by the main course. I had a “Chicken Marsala” which is a chicken in a mushroom sauce, with onions, basil and parmesan and all mixed in with tasty pasta. I don’t know about you but reading about food always makes me very hungry. So when you finish this text, I want you to go to your fridge and treat yourself to a lovely snack. But don’t eat in front of the computer or you’ll get crumbs on the keyboard! But I digress… the best thing about the dinner was the dessert: Probably the best strawberry ice cream I’ve had in a long time, it was really delicious.

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On this picture you can see my whole host family. From left to right: “Conor, Margaret, Me, Robert, “Granddad”, Sean

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PS – Dear EF: This is NOT my Guinness on this picture, its Robert’s!

“Granddad” is Margaret’s father and he spends a lot of time with us. Ever since I told him that army service in Switzerland is mandatory, he insists on calling me Private Ryan. He always cracks jokes and is generally a very funny person but he is also quite wise. We often debate topics and because of his extensive general knowledge, he typically wins all arguments…. He also has a small dog named Sam. Whenever Sam is separated from his master, he starts to howl and he doesn’t stop before his master has returned. It doesn’t matter if it’s a minute or an hour, he will howl and howl until he is happily reunited.

Anyway, the dinner was absolutely delicious and I already said thank you for this nice dinner. But just in case a member of my host family reads this post: Thank you very much for this, it was absolutely brilliant and I will always remember this experience!

That’s all I have for you today, but in my next post I will write about the actual Christmas Day.

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Pictures in the Rain

English

I hope you enjoyed the “Dublin at Christmas” pictures from the last Blog post. Here’s some background on how and when I took the pictures.

christmas-ornament-border-clipart-Transparent_Christmas_Blue_Ornament_ClipartIt was the 23. Of December and as I was looking out of my window, I could see the spirit of Christmas everywhere. Everything was covered in Christmas decorations, and not just buildings, even cars were decorated Christmas-style. So I wondered, what will it be like in the centre of Dublin?

As I don’t have to study for school, I have a lot of spare time at the moment, so I took my camera and made my way to the bus station. There was a light drizzle outside, as is normal for Ireland at this time of the year. But as I was looking through the bus window, the rain got a lot worse with each passing minute.

IMG_3799[1]Still, I thought nothing of this, as the weather here can change very quickly.  I was hoping it might change back to a light drizzle long before the bus was due to arrive in the city centre. But it never stopped! So I immediately had to look for shelter as I got out of the bus. I waited for a couple of minutes but then I realized, it might stay like this the whole day. So like a true Irishman, I ignored the foul weather, took out my camera and started to take pictures. Every couple of minutes I had to stop and wipe away the raindrops from the lens with piece of soft and lens-friendly cloth.

How-Batteries-DieMost of the pictures are from the area surrounding O’Connell Street which is right in the centre of Dublin. Normally, this area is packed with people. The bad weather had one advantage: people stayed at home and the streets were empty. Perfect for taking pictures of Dublin’s famous monuments. The worst point came when I wanted to take a picture of “the spire”. To get the right angle, I had to point the camera upwards and heavy raindrops were splashing on my face. But it was funny to see all the water running down “the Spire”.

As time was passing, my clothes got more and more soaked, and eventually the battery of the camera died.  So I made my way back to the bus station. As I was standing on the bridge I had a very nice view of the river and the city. So I turned on my camera for the last time and took a final picture just in time before the battery was completely empty. This final picture is one of my favourite images from that day.

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Now I hope I’m not going to catch a cold from that day! My next blog post will be about the Christmas dinner, so check back soon… I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas yourself.

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Dreaming of an Irish Christmas

English

canstockphoto9751902_EducationToday, I had a look at some of the topics of my previous post. What strikes me is that a large number of the posts is about school. While I have done my best to describe the school building and the rooms, I realize that without actually seeing a picture it’s hard to imagine what it’s really like.

I want you to try a little experiment: Have a friend or colleague describe something to you and try to draw a picture at the same time. Then show the picture to the friend and see how reality and picture match.

So now you know why I took some many photos of the school and posted them on my blog. From now on, whenever I write about a certain room or area at school, you can look at the pictures and you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

1964052823787147144Christmas is approaching quickly and there is a lot of frantic activity, with people trying to buy the right gifts for friends and family. At home, I usually have a very good idea of what I want to buy, but here it’s a bit different. Obviously, I don’t know my host family as well as my family back home and I don’t really know what they might like or not like.

I’m sure you all know the feeling, when you absolutely have to buy a Christmas present for someone at the last minute. In Switzerland I usually buy at least one gift for everyone who participates in our yearly Christmas celebration (including my clumsy cat).

222323Since I will be spending Christmas here in Ireland together with my host family, I will need to get presents for them as well. Obviously I can’t share my ideas with you yet because there is a possibility that Conor is secretly reading my blog to discover what he might get for Christmas. Conor, if you’re reading: yes, it will be a Santa Christmas sweater! But seriously, I’m not going to reveal my secret “gift ideas” before Christmas. To my readers: If you have any ideas for host-family Christmas presents, write a comment please! Thanks!

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If you have followed my posts on the Irish weather then you should know that it’s very windy at this time of year. My school bag is quite heavy and that’s a good thing! One morning I accidentally left without it and the wind almost lifted me off my feet…

2000px-Zeichen_113.svgThere is no snow at the moment, but the ground is icy and it’s easy to slip and fall if you’re not careful. I saw at least twenty students limping around the school building today, holding their backs and displaying a painful facial expression. It’s a constant reminder that I must tread carefully!

More about Christmas in Ireland in my next posts….

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