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Monday, 14 October 2013

Frankfurt Book Fair 2013 - a family adventure

Its the biggest book fair in the world and it is in the city we live. So we could not pass by the opportunity to go and check it out.

The tickets included public transport and it was all on my phone. I love technology when it works like this. It was 3 degrees but we got going early to try to avoid the main crowds. And there were crowds.

They found the Gruffalo!
We love reading - any time, any place!
Checking out the new releases.
I had quickly noted down some of the children's attractions, so we had a vague plan of action. Initially bumping into the Gruffalo we meandered way through many of the children's book publishers before making our way to the Kids Bubble. It was the first event that I thought might interest the kids - the launch of the Griaffe-Affe audio book. The Giraffe-Affe is an imaginary animal that is part monkey and part giraffe. Our littlest one was lucky enough to catch one as they were thrown into the audience. We were then treated to a musical performance. The songs sung in the audio version of the book. They were sung by a guy who was a previous contestant on The Voice of Germany. Then the actor who made the audio book, read from the book. The kids were enchanted by his voices and sound effects of all the characters. A great start and one that found as returning to the Kids Bubble throughout the day.

The Kids Bubble and the Giraffe-Affe
The fair is a huge event and encompasses everything to do with books. Of course there was the technology and new forms but I didn't even get to those specialist halls. There were stands with just paper, beautiful paper that I had to touch. There were thousands of books from all over the world waiting for someone to buy the rights to translate them into another language. Stands were dedicated to all the accessories you can buy in a bookshop. There was even a "walk of calenders".

But there were a few areas that particularly interested me. The Gourmet Gallery. It was full of cookbooks, wonderful cookbooks. I was drooling. There was a Prosecco Bar and a demonstration kitchen where famous cooks were cooking live recipes from their books. I could have stayed there all day paging through the books.

And some of us are having a good time!
Trying to get a feel for the crowds in the Comics area - it was packed.
The Comic area was incredible. Comics are alive and well. You could even create your own comics with the aid of technology. They had lots of tablets and individuals could create a comic. You choose images or made a collages of images then add your own text or the suggestions. These where then on large screens, so everyone passing could read the comics being made real time. How cool is that!

Then there were the famous comic artists drawing for their fans. The queues were amazing, but the art work that each person received was done with care and the joy of sharing the comic passion. Some were taking a good 10mins to paint or draw wonderful images. It was clear that those receiving the art were delighted and their long wait made worthwhile.

Watching a comic artist at work
Then there were the Manga fans. At first I thought it was some workers on the stands dressed up. How cool I thought. Then I saw 10, then 20 then 50......and throughout the day 1,000's of people dressed up. Most were quite sophisticated costumes that must have taken hours to prepare. The hair alone was impressive. I was a bit hesitant to take photos as did not want it to seem that I was making fun of them. To balance it out there were Hufflepuff fans and for some people you had to wonder if it was their real clothes or they were also "in character".

Wanting to be a fairy princess
Our own Giraffe-Affe
What else at a book fair - places to hang out and read and relax.
Release of a movie with the child stars and author/movie producer.
The end of our day was a movie-book release. The author/movie producer of the Wild Kerle (sounds better in German), read from the book and we got a sneak preview of movie. Two of the children actors were there and talked about their time making the movie. Marlene bought the books and got them signed by the author and the actors - she was delighted.

All in all a fabulous day. I congratulate all those who put in so much creative spirit and energy in making it such a wonderful event. I can't wait to return next year. Who is joining us?

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Hairdresser

There is nothing more fraught with nerves and danger than trying out a new hairdresser - especially when you don't speak the lingo. Having short hair most of my life, a visit to the hairdresser has not usually phased me - taking off a ski helmet is another story as you might recall. As if anything really goes wrong I have consoled myself that it will grow back or out or something.

I do recall an incident when I was 4-5 years old and decided that I did not want a fringe, so I just cut it off. My mother did not see it so black and white. It might be where my hair mantra will grow back or out or something.

Today I went to a new hairdresser in Frankfurt. I had been tempted to test the place 200m from our front door step - what a convienience. But Ron had been there for a hairuct and the free added spiritual awakening (in which he did not awake). I was not sure that I would not have laughed out loud when following the haircut she danced some voodoo stuff and waved essential oils around my head. Needless to say Ron is giving the voodoo hairdresser a pass. Although no spiritual awakeneing - he nows believes he can sing demonstated outside the Alte Oper, Frankfurt.


In the last 10 years or so the hairdresser has meant communicating in a foreign lanaguge: French, "Austrian", Hungarian and now German. My french usually meant that I ended up with hair much shorter than I had wanted. In Austria I sometimes took Ron to translate but that also did not work. Hungarian was another story and you always ended up with red hues reagrdless of what colour you requested. I had a friend who never did her colour and a haircut at the same time in Hungary. She exclained that she could not cope if both the cut and the colour were wrong! In Hamburg I just went to the most expensive hairdresser and crossed my fingers and smiled. The results were variable but I finally got the colour right!

My Frankfurt hairdresser research involved asking a lady (that we know) with what I consider to be fine, straight hair. Just like me! Luckily she was not the least worried by my request and gave me the number of the "Hair Palace". She told me that its run by a Chinese guy and she figured he must be good with straight hair, given most Chinese have straight hair!

So I went to make an appointment - by ringing the Wong number. I spoke with his wife and asked only for an appointment in the morning - "Morgen". She thought I meant morgen as in was a public holiday, so they were closed. After a bit of back and forth we finally got to an understanding that my Morgen was mornings, not tomorrow (small "m" morgen). I don't know how you can say that in German. Finally appointment made.

I decided to drive downtown. Parking in the middle of town is dead cheap - its amazing. We don't know another major city that has such inexpensive parking. For 2.5hrs I paid 5 Euro. And it would have cost me 2 Euro each way on the tram plus 15min walk. So since it was a "ME" morning I forked out the extra Euro for the convienince of central city parking and not damaging my new hair cut on public transport.

Result you ask? Well he said he would just trim the ends. But I said I wanted a tad more. So it is a bit shorter than I had imagined. The problem when both are not speaking thier mother tongues. But I am happy and I will stick with this salon and hairdresser during out time in Frankfurt - chop chop.

He is a bad attempt at the post hairdesser selfie.