Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Now you see me, now you don’t!

I am very briefly back in Germany. Today, we shall be unpacking the suitcase then repacking it ready to fly to Madeira tomorrow. A flying visit home, you might say. Christmas with the family was full but fun. While in England, i managed to munch my way through a tonne of bacon, some chips and battered sausage (sadly no gravy because the chip shop had run out), a Sunday roast, Galaxy Minstrels, several packets of McCoy’s crisps, Christmas dinner, trifle, banoffee pie, some good old English sausages and mash inside a giant Yorkshire pudding, corned beef and potato pie and gallons and gallons of tea! A successful trip, I think.

As for Christmas gifts, my friends and family seem to have been conspiring this year. Much as I love owls, I don’t think I’ll be needing any more for a while!

A parliament of owls?

A parliament of owls?

None owl related gifts included a food package from a friend, the film Philadelphia on DVD, a poppy dress from Jan (which I had very unsubtley asked for), a gorgeous snood from my mum, a book and a bracelet. Jan and I also received a sheep doorstopper that I asked my dad to buy for us when M&S had them on sale. Basically I was spoiled rotten :-)

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of tasty food, great gifts and festive cheer!


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Friday letters (holidays are coming)

Today is my final day at work, then we’re closed for a whole two weeks. Hooray! I am certainly in need of a break after all the overtime I’ve been doing recently! Just a few more things to sort out tonight, then it’s off to England tomorrow to spend Christmas with the family…

Letter to Santa

Letter to Santa (Photo credit: katerha)

Dear flights. I’m counting on you to not be delayed or cancelled this time. I’ve had enough stress recently without dealing with that, too!

Dear boyfriend. Can’t wait to spend an entire two weeks with you without any work or other commitments! Please not getting ill this time though…

Dear suitcase. I know I have a lot of gifts to put in you, but I would appreciate it if you could stay within the weight limit anyway!

Dear British food. I am coming for you!! First up: a bacon sadwich with decent bacon!

Dear family, friends and godson. Can’t wait to see you. And I hope you like your gifts.

Dear readers. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to get on WordPress while I’m in England, so I’ll wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year now. “See” you in 2014!

Weihnachtsmarkt 2013


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Look Up, Look Down: Christmas Pyramid

Apologies for the two photo posts in a row – there hasn’t been much time recently to write anything real!
For this week’s Look Up, Look Down, I decided to go with a photo that’s rather appropriate for the time of year. It was taken at the Christmas market in Ettlingen (which is called “Sternlesmarkt” – Star Market. How cute is that?) in 2010.

Ettlingen pyramid

Have a photo that you think would be perfect for the Look Up, Look Down challenge? Check out Travel With Intent’s blog post to find out how to join in the fun!


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Friday letters (still busy)

Aaah, FINALLY it is Friday – and let me tell you the weekend is much needed! It has been a crazily busy week. But even now the weekend is here I won’t be relaxing. Tomroow, I’m makingmy traditional English Christmas dinner for German friends – plus one Scottish girl – which means a day in the kitchen. At least that’s a fun kind of busy though. And the good news is, I’ve managed to get further than expected with my big translation job, so I shouldn’t need to work quite as many hours as feared next week…

Letter to Santa

Photo credit: moonlightbulb

Dear boyfriend. Thank you for suggesting we eat at the Irish pub on Wednesday. I know you had an ulterior motive, but it was nice of you to notice how stressed I was and say it would save me from having to cook.

Dear Germany. The Local tells me you are falling out of love with Lebkuchen. Are you mad? I’ll have your share if you don’t want it…

Dear Christmas gifts on order. Please hurry up and arrive! The day I need to leave for England is rapidly approaching…

Dear turkey. I know you’re huge, but please be defrosted in time to go in the oven!

Dear 2013. You haven’t been the best year of my life and I can’t wait for you to be over! Here’s hoping 2014 brings more travel and less illness…

Dear readers. Please bear with me for a few more weeks. I’m going to be very busy between now and Christmas! And while  I do have some posts for scheduled over Christmas/New Year, I’m going to be away for both so don’t be too upset if it takes me a while to get round to answering comments…

P.S. Please got to Diaries of an Essex Girl’s blog and read her post on Labels Agianst Women then leave a comment – this is something that NEEDS to be discussed by as many people (male and female) as possible.


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Thought gathering

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

The tagline of my blog is “Just a place to gather my thoughts”, and that’s how it started out – as I place for me to write down everything I was thinking and thus get it out of my brain (it’s crowded in there you know!). Lately, I seem to have moved away from that, but occasionally I still need to get rid of my thoughts before they drive my crazy, spinning around in my head. It’s not that all my thoughts are bad… there are just too bloody many of them! So here’s a brain dump, with apologies to those who don’t like blog posts in the form of bullet point lists.

 

  • I had loads of plans for when my boyfriend was away, including get back on track with healthy eating/exercise and giving the flat a proper clean and tidy while I could be sure it wouldn’t be cluttered again within hours. Instead, I’ve spent most of my time lounging in front of the TV and eating crap. I suspect the next few evenings are going to be busy – and not in a good way!
  • Christmas shopping is HELL! I have a drawer full of gifts, yet the only people I’ve completely finished buying for are Jan (sort of – more on that later), my youngest brother and my godson. For everyone else, I’m either waiting on deliveries or clueless! And every year I seem to have more people to buy for. Could everyone please stop reproducing already?!
  • I wish people wouldn’t suddenly stop in the middle of the street. Do they seriously not realise they’re in the way? The same goes for groups of people who take up the entire pavement and walk reeeeally slowly. Some of actually want to get where we’re going, you know! And while I’m ranting… what is it with people stopping immediately after getting off the escalator? Don’t they realise the people behind them can’t stop? Sorry, but if you do that and I then crash into you, you only have yourself to blame!
  • Because Jan was away for the start of December, I’ve decided to make this year’s advent calendar a mini one. Instead of going from 1st-25th December, he’s getting one more expensive gift for 1-8 December, ordinary advent calendar gifts from 9th-20th December then another slightly more expensive one for 21st-25th December. Unfortunately, so far I’ve bought the first more expensive gift and a grand total of two ordinary ones. Did I mention he gets back on Sunday?…

    Adventkalender

    I want this advent calendar! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • I truly enjoy my job (and HATED being unemployed) but the thought of working pretty much non-stop for the next 40 years (with the occasional holiday in between) is seriously depressing! And yes, I’m aware that in 40 years I’ll be 70, but Germany is planning to put the retirement age up to 67 by 2029… if you seriously think it won’t have gone up even further by the time I reach that age you’re seriously deluded!
  • I’m pleasantly surprised that my train to work has been running smoothly so far this month. Usually, the minute December hits it all goes horribly wrong. Admittedly it hasn’t actually snowed yet, but still…
  • I appear to have become slightly addicted to Advent prize draw things (the kind where you just click on that day’s number then fill in a form with your name and address). So far I haven’t won anything though… How many websites do I have to visit each day before I get a prize?
  • I’m actually looking forward to making Christmas dinner for my friends next weekend, even though it’s a lot of work. Still need to think of a starter though. If anyone has any ideas, please send them my way!

 

That’s all from me. Is there anything you would like to get off your chest? (Or out of your brain, as the case my be…)

 


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Let’s play Holiday Season Tag!

Sherbet and Sparkles

Charlotte over at Sherbet and Sparkles tagged me in this little game that she made up. Like me, Charlotte is a British girl living in Germany and she was interested in finding out how other people who are living somewhere other than their home country spend November and December… and so Holiday Season Tag was born. The idea is very simple… answer the questions then persuade fellow bloggers to join in. Got that? Then let’s go! First of all, my answers:

1. Do people celebrate anything at this time of year where you are? Are there any special customs?

In many ways, the Germans are the masters of Christmas! First of all, there are the Christmas markets. These are so good that, in recent years, they’ve even started popping up all over Britain! And imitation is the greatest form of flattery (or however the saying goes), after all. Nothing can chase away the blues of a damp, cold November better than a giant sausage and a Glühwein (or several) at the local Weihnachtsmarkt! Then there are the stands selling all kinds of things… from handmade soaps to Christmas tree ornaments, sweets, wooden toys, jewellery… I like looking around all the stall almost as much as the Glühwein!

Another thing the Germans do well is Christmas treats. I think most people know about Lebkuchen by now, but there are also Vanillekipferln (vanilla flavoured soft shortbready type biscuits (cookies) shaped like little moons), “Christmas” chocolate, such as the one by Lindt that I am drooling just thinking about, Nussecken, and – my favourite – Dominos. These have a soft Lebkuchen (gingerbread) base followed by a layer of fruit jam/jelly stuff (similar to the middle of Jaffa Cakes) and finally a layer of marzipan. The whole thing is then covered in chocolate. They are seriously addictive and I’ve actually had to ban myself from buying any before November. If I didn’t, I would eat nothing but Dominos from September to January…

Something that I didn’t know at all before coming to Germany is Nikolaustag. During the night from 5-6 December, St Nicolaus comes round to people’s houses and fills children’s shoes with sweets and small gifts… if they’ve been good! Apparantly bad children get a lump of coal, although I doubt that ever happens. Nikolaus has never filled my shoe with treats, but I do usually get a chocolate Santa from work on Nikolaustag.

Finally, something that shocked me when I first came to Germany is that Christmas here happens on 24 December! It still seems odd to me that Father Christmas comes in the afternoon, when everybody is awake. Also, it’s not always Father Christmas (or the Weihnachtsmann as he’s called in German) who delivers the presents. My boyfriend’s family had the Weihnachtsmann, but in other families – especially Catholic ones – it’s the Christkind, or baby Jesus, who brings the presents.

Phew, sorry that was so long! On to the next question…

2. Do you feel that you are missing out on anything by not being in your home country around the holidays?

Apart from the obvious fact that I don’t get to see my family, not really. Actually, Christmas at my dad’s house was pretty low key for a long time after my step mum died (on Christmas Eve). It’s only since my little brother has started to understand what’s going on that things have become a bit more festive again. I used to miss my Christmas dinner, but since I’ve started making one for friends a few weeks before Christmas I no longer feel deprived.

3. Do you go back home at all?

It depends. This year I am because I spent the last two years in Germany so I promised my grandparents that I would spend Christmas in England this time. I hope it won’t be as stressful as the last time I tried to go home for Christmas, when half of Europe’s airports were closed because of the snow! Annoyingly, both the airport I was flying from and my destination were open… but every one of the places we could have changed planes was closed… and there are no direct flights to Newcastle from here.

4. Back to your expat country! What’s the weather like during the holidays?

Cold! I’m actually lucky in that I live in one of the warmest parts of Germany, but it still tends to get colder than back home… and I come from probably the coldest part of England! So far, it’s not too bad here and the forecast is telling me we’ll be seeing daytime highs of around 3–4°C (roughly 37–39°F) over the next few days, but I fully expect it to get into the minus figures (°C) at some point. There will probably be snow as well once we get towards mid-December – in other parts of Germany, the snow has already started!

5. Is there anything you’d recommend a visitor do/see/have if they are visiting your expat country around this time?

Obviously the Christmas markets. I can’t possibly praise them enough! Even if alcohol is not your thing, you can grab a warm fruit punch or a hot chocolate and soak up the festive atmosphere.

BONUS! Post a photo that best shows what it’s like in your expat country around the holidays.

Snow at Karlsruhe Weihnachtsmarkt, December 2012

Snow at Karlsruhe Weihnachtsmarkt, December 2012

I would love to hear all about your experiences of the holiday season, so I tag everyone… but especially Lady of the Cakes, Expat Eye on Latvia (because I need to know whether Latvians are as Grinch-like about Christmas as everything else), Sara in Le Petit Village,  Molly from The Move to America, Katrin from Land of Candycanes and Deanna of From Casinos to Castles.

For ease of copying and pasting, here are all the questions together:

1. Do people celebrate anything at this time of year where you are? Are there any special customs?

2. Do you feel that you are missing out on anything by not being in your home country around the holidays?

3. Do you go back home at all?

4. Back to your expat country! What’s the weather like during the holidays?

5. Is there anything you’d recommend a visitor do/see/have if they are visiting your expat country around this time?

BONUS! Post a photo that best shows what it’s like in your expat country around the holidays.

Now go grab the button from Charlotte’s post on Sherbet and Sparkles and let’s play!


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Friday letters

I have one more post to come about last weekend’s trip, but first it’s time for Friday letters…

English: Disused letterbox, Callow End A disus...

Disused letterbox (Photo: Wikipedia)

Dear J & M. It was lovely to see you again at the weekend and meet your baby boy!

Dear Austria. You have shown me again exactly why I love you. I will be back!

Dear weather. I know it’s November, but is all this rain really necessary? Also, please make up your mind what temperature you want to be! 10°C one day and 17°C the next is just confusing!

Dear self. If you really want to stop putting on weight, you need to stop eating every piece of food you can get your hands on! Christmas is coming soon and you’ll be doing more than enough eating then…

Dear Christmas shopping. I hope I can put a large dent in you next week. The number of people I now have on my to buy for list is scary!

Dear hot showers. Having no hot water for a couple of days has made me realise how grateful I am to have you in my life!

Dear tea. Without you, I could not cope with these cold, rainy days! Once again, you are my saviour.

That’s all for today. Have a great weekend (hopefully dry) everyone! I’m going whiskey tasting. Should be interesting…

Photobucket


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Friday letters

It’s been another loooong week, It started off slow… so slow, in fact, that I was pleased my colleague was off ill (well, not actually pleased she was ill… but you know what I mean) because it meant all the work that came in was automatically mine.  Beats trying desperately to find some other work to do!  Monday and Tuesday still dragged though. Then on Wednesday things went crazy and I spent the rest of the week trying to get everything done and find people to proofread things as said colleague remained ill for the entire week…

Mailbox - Bonita Flamingos

Flamingos mailbox (Photo: Atelier Teee)

Dear boyfriend. I’m happy that we’ve booked our flights to England for Christmas. No getting ill this time please!

Dear Irish Pub. Celebrating your 5th birthday on Wednesday was fun, but I swear next year I’m taking the following day off! Tired isn’t even the word for my state yesterday…

Dear Austria. Can’t wait to see you in two weeks!

Dear Amazon. I almost cried when I saw the total price for my order the other day. And none of it was even for me! Yes…. Christmas present shopping has commenced. *Sigh*.

Dear dresses. Stop being so pretty! I’m not supposed to be buying any more clothes this year…

Dear Christmas. I’m convinced you get more expensive every year! Why are none of my family easy and inexpensive to buy for?!

Dear readers. Thank you for all the compliments on my sun-kissed hair. You inspired me to make that photo my header!

Dear weekend. The weather forecast seems to indicate that we should be seeing some *gasp*… dare I say it?… SUN! I feel like I should do something to celebrate this. Day trip perhaps?

Photobucket

Have a great weekend everyone, however you’re spending it.


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Goslar

Unlike roughly 90% of the other places in my 30 German Towns Before 30 series, Goslar is not in southern Germany! I went there in December 2009. Jan and I were staying at his dad’s for Christmas that year and a girl I’d gone to school with was living in Bad Fallingbostel because her then husband was posted there with the army. We decided such a perfect opportunity to meet up couldn’t be missed, and chose to do so in Goslar because it was roughly half way between where each of us was.

Goslar, viewed from the top of a tower

Goslar, viewed from the top of a tower

Jan was actually born in Goslar, but only because it was the closest hospital to where his parents were living at the time. So other than as a newborn, he’d never actually been there.

Being two days after Christmas, everybody still had their lights up.

Christmas lights in Goslar

Christmas lights in Goslar

A small Christmas market was still going on (unusual – most of them finish on 23 December!), so we stopped for a quick Glühwein.

Sign on the Glühwein stand - Waldhütte translates to "Forest hut"

Sign on the Glühwein stand – Waldhütte translates to “Forest hut”

Jan then spotted a tower that it was possible to climb, so of course we had to go up. One of the photos of the view is at the top of this post. Here’s another:

Goslar 3

As you can see, Goslar has a fair few half-timbered houses.

The main sight in Goslar is the Kaiserpfalz – the Mediaeval Imperial Palace, so that’s where we went next. No photos were allowed inside, but here’s one of the outside:

The Kaiserpfalz

The Kaiserpfalz

After looking round the museum, we walked back into town and found a cafe where we treated ourselves to some coffee and cake. Here’s one of the streets we walked down while looking for the cafe… so cute!

Goslar 4

By the time we’d finished our coffee and cake, it was starting to get late, and we each had a longish drive ahead of us, so we decided to call it a day.
Our trip to Goslar was brief, but I’m glad we decided to go there. It’s one of those typical cute German towns with numerous pretty buildings just begging to have their photos taken. When we were there, it was freezing, but I can see it being a lovely place for a walk in spring/summer. And the town is situated at the foot of the Harz mountains – the highest mountain range in Northern Germany – so it would be the perfect starting point for a day of hiking.

Aaaand that’s number 30, which means MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!


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So that was Christmas…

All those days of rushing around like a lunatic, trying to get cards written, gifts wrapped and packages sent are now over, culminating in family and friends in various locations spending about a minute tearing off the wrapping paper and briefly admiring my offerings before moving on to the next brightly wrapped gift.

I sent a friend in England chocolate-coated Lebkuchen (a German gingerbread), which she has informed me she could happily eat every day of the year. Success!

My mum loves her posh herbal tea and has already started reading her book. My sister liked her book too.

My brother’s deodrant goes with shower gel and aftershave he got from other people. He’s happy because the scent he wanted is expensive and he couldn’t have afforded it himself!

The last few days my Facebook newsfeed has been full of photos and statuses referring to various babies’ first Christmases. Many of my friends gave birth to their first child this year and of course Christmas had to be recorded in minute detail. I’m sure I would be the same if it were ever to happen to me. Very cute photos of small children in their Christmas pyjamas. Those born at the beginning of the year are old enough to at least be somewhat aware, even if they did find the wrapping paper much more interesting than the gifts inside.

Our Christmas was busy. We arrived at Jan’s dad’s fairly late on 23 December. Christmas Eve for the Germans is Christmas day, but only in the evening. Until around 1 pm it’s an ordinary day and the shops are open. We went for a walk around the village then ate Lebkuchen while drinking tea. In the evening we ate sausages and potato salad before opening a few presents – one each for Jan and I. The rest had to wait until “my” Christmas. At midnight I opened another gift – a tradition in my family!

Early on the morning of 25 December we drove down to Jan’s dad’s girlfriend’s place (overuse of apostrophes in that sentence!). More gifts were exchanged there. By the time I’ve eaten all my chocolates I may never want to see another one again! Lunch was fish in a creamy sauce served with potatoes and tomatoes baked over with lots of cheese. Delicious! Afterwards we took advantage of a lull in the rain to go for a bit of a walk. It had started dripping again by the time we got back though.

We stayed there over night then drove up to Jan’s mum’s place on boxing day. Got there just in time for lunch, which was delicious beef from a happy cow (his mum knows the owners personally). After showing them our photos from Sweden we spent the evening playing Scrabble in German! There was one round where I did not come last ;-) Another night, another bed – we stayed there rather than going back to Jan’s dad’s.

Yesterday we came back to Karlsruhe, and tomorrow we go to Luxembourg for the New Year. A brief visit in our flat; two nights in our own bed then off on our travels again.

Christmas was busy, but fun. Next year I want to spend it in England again. After two christmases in Germany it’s time!

(Sorry, no pictures. Zemanta isn’t working and I didn’t take any.)

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