Happy New Year!

The year 2009 is almost over and it's this day of the year when you sit down and think about everything you want to do and achieve in 2010.

Chances are that somewhere on that list there are the well-known points of doing more sports and losing some weight.

My own list includes graduating from university, finding a job and, most of all, moving in with my boyfriend. By the time we can actually move in together, we will have been talking about it for over a year!

Other than that, I want to pass the CBT somehow at some point during the year. But you see, I never really make New Year's resolutions, as what happens, happens, and there's no real need for me to plan these things. Yes, they are things I'd like to do, but then again, except for maybe the CBT, they are all a given for 2010 anyway.

I'm not going to reflect on the year that's just coming to an end - too many journalists and hobby bloggers do that already. The only thing worth mentioning about 2009 for me is that I think I found my soulmate in the middle of January. And because of that, 2009 has been an amazing year!

Whatever your resolutions, and however you plan to celebrate tonight: Have a Happy New Year and I hope that 2010 will be as great as you want it to be!

Christmas in the UK

This Christmas was the first I celebrated with my boyfriend, and the first I celebrated in the UK.

And although it was great, it was also.... different.

At home in Germany, we celebrate on 24th December. Usually we decorate the tree either on the 23rd or during the morning of the 24th. We go to church in the afternoon for an hour, and then the whole family gathers at my parents' flat and we open our presents. After that, we have Christmas Dinner in the form of meat fondue and later some coffee.

This year, my boyfriend and I decided to open our presents on the 23rd December already, as he'd also gotten presents for his housemates, and they left for their parents' houses that night. On Christmas Day, we then met up with nearly the entire family at my boyfriend's parents' house at 10am and opened our presents, before half of us were kicked out of the kitchen so that the rest could prepare lunch. We had turkey for lunch, complete with stuffing, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, pigs in blankets and gravy. We each had Christmas crackers, and ended up wearing those funny paper crowns. Later, most of us played Scattergories and Charades while getting drunk and eating too much cake.

It was a really nice Christmas, but it was still weird not to be home.


All the people of Merrydale want is a life in peace. Yet the Giant, who lives in Cloudland above the village, is getting hungry and wants to eat 12 children, a cow and Jill, the most beautiful girl in town.

The pantomime “Jack and the Beanstalk”, currently on show at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, guarantees family fun which young children will especially enjoy. The show contains many well-known songs that even small children will be able to sing along to and ballet dancers help to tell the story of the songs even better. And of course, as you would expect from a great pantomime, there is also a lot of interaction with the audience, and not just in the form of “He’s behind you!”

Jill’s boyfriend Jack (David Flynn), his brother Silly Billy (Steps star Ian ‘H’ Watkins) and their mother, wanna-be sassy Dame Trott (Jamie Greer), have to do everything they can, to make sure that the Giant’s plan does not come true. In the meantime, they also have to fend off the evil Queen Blunderbore (Paula Bell), who is Jill’s mother and the Trotts’ landlady.

In order to afford rent, Dame Trott has to sell her pet cow Gertie, but Jack is paid in beans instead of the expected gold at the market. When Flesh Creep (Eastenders actor Marc Bannerman) manages to also kidnap Jill (Tara Wells), and take her and Gertie to the Giant, Jack has to overcome his fear and, with the help of a little bit of magic, fight for what he loves most.

“Jack and the Beanstalk” offers a great mix of entertainment for children and accompanying adults and is sure to provide Southport residents with a Christmas treat.

The pantomime is on show at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre until Sunday 3rd January 2010.

This review was written for and published on The Champion's website.

ABBA tribute brings '70s back!

If you are a fan of Swedish cult band ABBA, then ABBA - The Show is the closest you will get to seeing the real deal live! Coverband Waterloo is probably the best ABBA since ABBA themselves!

ABBA - The Show came to Liverpool's Echo Arena last night, and they mesmerised their audience within the space of two songs. Following ABBA's career, from Ring, Ring to Mamma Mia and ending the night with 1974s hit single Waterloo and Thank you for the music the night held something in store for everyone.

By the third song, it was hard not to jump up and dance, and the audience singing along word for word probably gave goosebumps to a lot of people. During Fernando, the audience took over from leading ladies and Agnetha and Anni-Frid look-alikes Camilla Hedrén and Katja Nord and you'd be hard-pressed to find another concert with so much audience-participation.

Like ABBA, Waterloo hail from Sweden, so they gave their British audience the chance to listen to S.O.S in the Swedish version. And with all of them wearing stage costumes from the 70s, you really thought it was Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid up there on the stage, supported by the National Symphony Orchestra of London.

The coup, however, was that they managed to get original ABBA-musicians to perform on stage with them, namely Ulf Andersson on saxophone, and Roger Palm on drums. It added a lot to the authenticity, and even though you couldn't see the real ABBA, at least you got the real and original sound!

ABBA - The Show has been performing since September 2001 and it's unlikely they will stop anytime soon, as not just the audience is having a fabulous time during their performances. So if you're up for a show that transports you back to the 1970s and gives you an excuse to sing, dance and listen to ABBA all night, this show is for you! They are second only to the real deal!

For tour dates and tickets check the ABBA - The Show website.

Inspirations for By the Book

By the Book, an original musical by UoC student Scott Tomkins, will come to the stage of the Stanwix Studio Theatre on 18 December. Watch Scott talking about the inspirations that influenced him to write By the Book.

You can also listen to an interview with Scott, in which he explains the ups and downs of the casting and rehearsing process here.

Interview with Scott Tomkins

Listen to writer and director Scott Tomkins talking about the casting and rehearsing process for his original musical By the Book, which will premiere on 18th December at the Stanwix Studio Theatre.

Watch a video of Scott talking about his inspiration and influences for By the Book here.

Preview: By the Book

A new and original musical by a third year UoC student is coming to the Stanwix Studio Theatre this month. Cornelia Kaufmann had a chat with writer and director Scott Tomkins.

Sue is a librarian and absolutely loves her job. The only thing she doesn’t like is the fact that every day is the same and her boss Beryl holds her back from what she wants to be.

This is the scene for the original musical By the Book, which will be performed at the Stanwix Studio Theatre on 18th and 19th December at 9pm.

“The old library is being upgraded and Sue is really excited about the change. However, her boss is a bit old-fashioned and against it. Never in her life has Sue stood up for herself or to her boss before and you just have to see what happens when she finally does,” writer and director Scott Tomkins, a third year Musical Theatre and Technical Theatre students explains.

“The musical is very quirky, very up-beat and funny. Some of the songs are taken from already-existing musicals, although they are not too well-known. One of the key songs, I’m a librarian, is by American singer Jonathan Rundman, who kindly gave me permission to use it for By the Book. Other songs the audience will get to hear I’ve written myself,” Scott says.

The cast, led by Alex Anstey as chief librarian Beryl and Jennifer Yeates as Sue, will encounter exaggerated versions of real-life students throughout the show. “The casting and rehearsing process was fun! There’s mature Creative Writing student Bob, portrayed by Ben Edgecombe, who’s been doing the course for eight years now; and Adrian, a student who has lost a book and now has to go on a mission to find it again, who is played by Martin Carlton,” Scott laughs.

However, the musical also shows that good things can come from a bad situation and it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. By the Book is partly based on the library situation at the University of Cumbria’s Brampton Road campus, which was closed and converted into teaching space over the summer. Watch an interview.with Scott, in which he talks about influences and inspirations that led him to write By the Book .

Tickets are available at the Stanwix Theatre Box Office, by phone on (01228) 400356 or email stanwixtickets@googlemail.com. They cost £ 4 for adults, concessionary tickets are available for £2 and members pay £1.


Only two weeks until Christmas! But it's a bit weird. Because I'm in England, I hardly get to hear all those childhood melodies that to me mean: "Christmas time!"


Songs by Rolf Zuckowski, especially those on the Dezembertraeume and Winterkinder albums were part of our childhood Christmas ritual. In der Weihnachtsbaeckerei would play when we were baking cookies. Even today, when my mum and sister make cookies, they still listen to those songs. We'd put Rolf Zuckowski on while decorating our Christmas tree to get in the spirit. And I miss it. There's no music anywhere, there isn't that smell of freshly baked cookies in the air or the smells of apples, cinnamon, trees, oranges, Gluehwein or anything else I usually associate with Christmas.

Published - one year too late

I have just found this on Informer Online. It's a review of the movie "Wall-E": Who needs words to be a hero? written by yours truly.

Isn't it great to see that your work does get published on the website for our university newpspaper? Even if it's a year too late? You see, I wrote this review, and posted it on Conny's Corner on 17th December 2008! I know that sometimes stories don't make it into papers right away for various reasons, like tight space or bad subbing. But waiting one year is a new extreme, I would say.

I had urged our lecturer who's responsible for IO and Online Journalism, to put features up on the website, that were written for the latest Informer print version, which came out 3 weeks ago. We need our features to be published for an assessment, but, as usual with this university, nothing is done about it. I just don't think it reflects well on us, that we say in the print version "For the full story, visit us online" and then the story isn't there. Do you think that's good journalistic practice?

Well, along with some stories written for the latest Informer, some articles that have been waiting in a folder for a year finally got to see the light of day. Apparently, who ever put these things online, didn't bother to check which stories went into the print version, but just put everything that looked unpublished on the web. Thanks for that.

Next to the Wall-E review, there's also a story about a photography competition that I wrote for Conny's Corner last December on IO now. It's great our students finally find out about this competition, however, the book that resulted from the competition hit the shelves this autumn. Is it just me, or could this be seen as taking the piss?

And I'm still waiting for my Berlin Wall story - which you can already read here, as I posted it in time for the 20th anniversary celebrations - to be published on IO, so that I can hand it in for assessment. Maybe I should check back next November. Chances are, it might have made it online by then.

CV design for journalists

For an assessment, I have to submit my CV along with a report about my career goal. So instead of handing in my box-standard Curriculum Vitae, I decided to show that I am a journalist and can work with the industry software QuarkXpress.

I based my CV on the layout of The Guardian's front page. That means, I had to incorporate the Berliner size of the newspaper, as well as the paper's layout. I did change the colour scheme, however, as I didn't want to make a replica of The Guardian, but base my CV on it and show some of my own creativity. But judge for yourself:

Since The Guardian uses its own fonts, I had to find fonts that were close in appearance. I mostly used fonts Palatino Linotype and Rockwell throughout my layout.

I made the title piece petrolium-green instead of dark blue. Where there is the price and date on the left of the Guardian's colour patch, I included the date as my birthdate, as well as my address. The "Published in" was used for my birthplace.

The Guardian's header above the colour patch usually includes one of two pictures and sells for stories in the paper. I included a picture of myself, and used the sells to state the occupational organisations I am a member of, as well as advertise my blog. I even included a barcode, with the number being my mobile phone number instead.

The four stories on my front page - style CV are my details about education, work experience, spoken languages and my volunteering and skills written out. I included a byline for each, and even put in Guardian-style standfirsts on the work experience story. The solo picture was taken on my Gap Year, and the caption explains my Gap Year jobs and route as they are not mentioned in detail again in any of the stories.

The little, orange colour patch is dressed up as an advertisement, but really includes some of my personal interests in key words. The Guardian often carries small advertisements on its front page, and this information didn't really fit into any of the articles or sells.
Let me know what you think of the idea and layout!!

Sunday night at the movies

Parbold residents flocked to the Village Hall on Sunday night to see Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

The Parbold Community Association showed the film as part of its preview season to establish the Village Hall as Parbold Picture House. The film was only the second one to be shown in Parbold after The Godfather Part 1 on 22 November, and many residents took the opportunity to experience the film in a cinema-like atmosphere for only £3.

As the Picture House, Parbold’s village hall has the charm of an old-fashioned, small-town movie theatre. The walls are covered in red curtains, and the seating capacity can easily be adjusted to fit everyone in, so that nobody has to miss out.

It does make a nice change to see a movie and not have to sit through half an hour of commercials and previews beforehand. The advice to switch your mobile phones off does not come from a audio-recording, but from the man in the back, who’s responsible for the smooth running of the show. Although there were a few technical glitches during the showing, like the screen going blank, they were soon back under control and the Community Association apologised sincerely for the problems.

To give the community exactly what it wants, the association asks for feedback and film suggestions of all customers. Instead of going for the latest releases, the Picture House will show classics and its audiences’ favourite films.

The next screenings at Parbold’s newly established Picture House will be It’s a Wonderful Life on Sunday 20 December.at 7pm and The Muppets Christmas Carol on Monday 28 December at 3pm.

This review has also been published on The Champion's website.

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