Let’s all eat cake…

My amazingly wonderful blogging friend Katy is on a quest. A quest to raise money for a very good cause.
In January, Katy’s friend Michelle lost her baby boy, Keelan, to what was diagnosed as sudden infant death syndrome. Instead of dissolving into a little pool of grief (which is probably what I would done), Michelle chose to remember Keelan by raising money in aid of FSID – The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID). The original plan was to take part in Mile in Memory, walking a mile in memory of Keelan, which Michelle and Katy duly did. The day of the walk ended up expanding into a whole event, with a raffle, cakes for sale, a bouncy castle and general fun for all the family. Bteween them, they managed to raise an amazing £6000 for FSID! I think you’ll agree that’s quite an achievement.

Originally, the fundraising was to have ended there. Then they learned that the FSID has come up with a new fundraising plan. The charity is turning 40 this year and they are asking people to celebrate their anniversary (and raise money) by having tea parties. How could anyone resist the idea of having a good natter of a cuppa and a piece of cake and not even having to feel guilty about it because, of course, it’s all for charity! So of course, after not much debate, the two of them put their fundraising caps back on.
And that’s where I (and you) come in.

Michelle and Katy are going to be arranging tea parties in memory of Keelan, of course. But that’s not the big plan. The big plan is as follows: have other people host tea parties as well, in memory of Keelan and in aid of FSID. The more tea parties the better. They can be small tea parties or large tea parties. Virtual tea partiesm birthday tea parties, teddy bears’ picnics… anything goes. As long as the hosts believe it’s a tea party it will be accepted.

Naturally, I want to help too. I am, after all, in a perfect position on put the “international” into the events. And that’s where I need your help.

The Germans (and quite possibly all continental Europeans) have the idea of 5 o’clock tea firmly fixed in their heads. I don’t know why, but they’re utterly convinced that every British person drops whatever their doing at precisely 5pm every single day and goes off to have a cup of tea and a snack. No matter how often I inform them that I have never in my life gone out of my way to have a cup of tea and 5pm and can’t think of even one friend or acquaintence who has they remain utterly convinced that this stereotype is true. I’ve managed to get them to admit that it doesn’t always rain in the UK and I’m slowly convincing them that English food can actually be quite good, but the five-o’clock tea myth persists. No matter that nobody in the English-speaking world seems to have heard of it – they’ve always heard about it, therefore it must be true. So I’ve decided to embrace the stereotype. Why not? At least it’s a nice stereotype. So, I shall be offering my friends afternoon tea proper British style in memory of Keelan. Starting at 5pm, obviously.

And this is where I need your help! I want you to tell me what foods instantly spring to mind when I say the words “Afternoon tea”. The more traditionally English/British the better. I already have scones (both cheese and plain) on my list, and I even know of a source for clotted cream here in Germany! I’m also thinkin Cheddar cheese sandwiches – cut into little triangles for maximum posh Englishness – shortbread and Yorkshire Parkin (the latter shall be made using my Grandma’s recipe. What could be more English). But I need more! Hungry mouths to feed and all that. All contributions welcome, especially from those readers out there who are not British. What do you think is an absolute must at an English tea party? In this particular case stereotypes are welcome! (But only good ones, please. That’s what we’re trying to reinforce here).

By the way, you too can host a tea party in memory of Keelan. Check out The Dormouse’s Last Stand to find out how…


When one door closes…

I actually felt quite guilty after pressing publish on my last post. There are people out there with real problems. People who are suffering from ill health, spending every day in pain yet still managing to live their lives as fully as they can. There are people who have lost their children, to illness, or suddenly to accidents. Genuinely difficult, heartbreaking situations that I can’t even imagine having to face. Then there’s me moaning on about problems that are mostly caused by my very own brain. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s my blog, and if I can’t write about my feelings here then where can I? That said, I think my last post may have come across more negative than I had intended. I don’t want anyone thinking I hate my life… far from it! I love my job and I love my boyfriend. I still enjoy living in Germany. Most of the time I’m pretty happy. But it’s always a little disappointing when things end, and realising that something I had always (naively?) thought would be in my future – namely me settling down and having a family – is now very, very, very unlikely to happen is an ending of sorts. Okay, so maybe there is a slim chance that my boyfriend will decide within the next year (i.e. while it’s still possible for me to have a child before I turn 30) that settling down with me wouldn’t be that bad, but while the door may not quite have closed yet it’s, at best, ajar, and even I know that pinning all my hopes on that little crack isn’t going to get me anywhere. I’ve spent too much of my life waiting, hoping that the obstacles on the path I wanted to take would disappear, or at least become surmountable. Recently I finally realised that that isn’t how things work. And I thought I had come to terms with it, but the fact that I still feel sad when other people get married or give birth tells me that I’m not quite there yet. I will get there though, all I need is time. But since I can’t expect other people to stop living their lives while I get used to the fact that mine needs to go in a completely different direction, a direction I haven’t managed to figure out yet, it may take a little longer. Much as I would love to, I can’t go and live in a bubble until I’ve figured out where I’m going! So I shall continue to blog about how I feel, even if my feelings are negative at that moment. Happier posts will come though – promise!

Give my life a meaning

So my ex-boyfriend’s baby girl arrived on Monday and my cousin gave birth to a son yesterday. That’s the latest round of babies over then. Isn’t it funny how these things always seem to come in waves? The ex’s baby wasn’t due until the beginning of June and my cousin’s baby came around 2 weeks late. Really, they should have been pretty much exactly a month apart, but instead two babies of my acquaintence come along in the same week. I am happy for them of course, especially my cousin. It’s about time there was a new addition on that side of the family – the last one is at school now! But my happiness is tinged with something almost like nostalgia, if you can feel nostalgic for something that isn’t in the past? Every time a pregnancy is announced, a baby is born or someone gets married I am reminded that this is something I’m unlikely ever to have. Meet someone, fall in love, move in together then get married and have a baby (the last two not necessarily in that order) is something for other people. My story ended somewhere around fall in love. Okay, I now live with my boyfriend, but only with a certain amount of reluctance on his part. And now I’m rapidly approaching 30, which means if (and it’s a big  if) anything does happen I’ll already be old (in parenting terms) before my first child comes along, which was the last thing I wanted.
Don’t get me wrong, I can totally understand why nobody would ever want to settle down with me. I’m argumentative, constantly say the wrong thing – or say the right thing in the wrong way (I hear my mother’s voice in my head at this point: “It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it!”), I have next to no social competence and a tendency to see the worst in things. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with me either, if I had a choice. Which I obviously don’t. And I am aware that I am actually lucky. I should be grateful for what I’ve got – a wonderful boyfriend who loves me (even if he doesn’t know what he wants, which, after 7 years, would suggest that it definitely isn’t me!), a job that I am actually good at, I enjoy and where I have nice colleagues and a fantastic boss, a family who loves me (and who are far enough away not to constantly annoy me 😉 ). I should be happy. And yet… I’m not. Admittedly this  may just be another example of my constant negativity. I’m probably one of those people, who can never be satisfied no matter what. But I can’t help but think my life has no meaning. I’m just wandering around aimlessly with no idea what I want… although I do have a pretty clear idea of what I don’t want. Namely, to be a career woman. Yes, I love my job, but I can’t imagine anything more depressing than dedicating my life to it. Yes, promotions and things are nice, but surely nobody really wants to look back on their life and think “well, I did brilliantly at work anyway”. But if I’m not going to be a mother and I don’t want to be a career woman, what else is there? I need a change… a life makeover and a new direction. If only I knew where to start…

Getting crafty in memory of Ellie

Some of you may remember my post a few months ago about my friends little girl, Ellie, who sadly passed away from the genetic disease ARPKD (those who don’t know or remember what I’m on about can view the post here).
Ellie’s amazing mummy, my friend Naomi, has been raising money for the Tiny Lives charity, based at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where Ellie spent her short life. Now Naomi has opened an online shop “My Star Ellie” where she is selling handmade stuff to raise even more money for Tiny Lives. Various people are getting involved with the project, including me! Yes, very soon you will be able to marvel at greeting cards and bookmarks made by my very own hand!

I (and Naomi) would really appreciate it if you could take a look at the My Star Ellie shop, pass it on to your friends, blog about it, tweet about it and anything else you can think of to get the word out. And keep checking back! More stuff will be coming in. Not just greeting cards, but also gift tags, book marks, jewellery and anything else people decide to make and donate.

Here is the link:

Thank you all muchly for your help!

A trip to the zoo

On Saturday we went to France to go to the zoo. That isn’t quite as insane as it sounds. It was only a 2 and a half hour drive (we live really close to the French border) and the zoo is pretty amazing.

They have anteaters! Which is one of the reasons we decided to go in the first place.


Funny looking things, aren’t they? Unfortunately, by the time we got round to them it was nearly closing time and the animals had already been taken inside, so I couldn’t get a good picture. Stupid reflections on the glass.

One of the highlights of the day (for me) was the Arctic wolves, or rather the Arctic wolf cubs.

Arctic wolf cubs

I could have stayed and watched them all day! When they’re that little you can certainly tell that this is where dogs come from. One of them had even found a fir cone and was playing with it like a ball. So cute!

There was also a mediaeval falconry display, involving horses and lots of birds! All the talking was in French (which I don’t understand) but that didn’t matter. I don’t need to speak French to be fascinated by birds of prey! Unfortunately, my favourite bird (the Peregrine Falcon) was not involved in the display, but we did get to see one in its cage later. Here it is.

Peregrine Falcon

And here are some of the birds that were involved in the display.

I wonder what they were plotting, sitting there all in  row?

The zoo also had bats (no picture of them – too dark!), orangutans, red pandas (cuuute!), a skunk and even some rhinoceroses – or should that be rhinoceri? In just four hours we didn’t even have a chance to see everything! Next time we’ll have to leave earlier and spend the whole day there. So, if you ever find yourself in Lorraine, make sure you go to the zoo in Amnéville – it’s well worth it! If you get in touch with me before you go I might even join you there!

At least it’s the weekend…

All week I’ve been wanting to write a nice, positive post to counteract the whines of the two previous ones, but then I came down with this horrible cold thing, which meant I left work early on Wednesday (to be fair I had nothing musch to do anyway) and actually ended up calling in sick yesterday and spending the day in bed. Unheard of for me! The last time I was off work sick was at my previous job, and then I was sent home because I was annoying everyone with my coughing! I stayed home again today as well. I was feeling somewhat better, but not enough to face the journey to work. Luckily we have the option to log on to the server remotely from home, so I sent an email saying I could work, but wasn’t feeling up to coming in. The offer was gratefully accepted… my colleague took yesterday off as well and called in sick again today. Since there are only two of us translating into English you can imagine the chaos that can cause both of us being ill can cause! Luckliy yesterday remained quiet, but the colleague who deals with order management was understandably relieved to have one of us at least able to do a little work from home today!

Jan has been wonderful through this! I was already feeling crappy on Tuesday (but still well enough to go to work) so he got out of bed while I was in the shower and made me an Erkältungstee! That’s tea that’s supposed to help with colds. (Cold tea would be the literal translation but that just sounds weird in English). Usually I have to wake him up to say goodbye when I leave, so him getting up at 6:30 a.m. just to make me a tea was quite frankly amazing! Even more so when he then did the same thing on Wednesday morning! Yes, I do realise how lucky I am (although reading back through my posts you’d probably be hard pushed to believe me). I seem to be on the road to recovery now. I feel less weak and my head’s stopped feeling like it’s been stuffed with cotton wool. Now if only my nose would stop alternating between running and being blocked and I could stop coughing for longer than 5 minutes at a time everything would be perfect! At least it’s the weekend. Two whole days to recover…
And now I’m off to make chilli con carne for tea. Hot food sounds like such a wonderful idea right now!