As a child growing up in the 80s, there were a few TV programmes I watched religiously. One of them was Jim’ll Fix It. I never actually sent a letter in (I have a sneaking suspicion I may not have been allowed), but I would spend hours dreaming up things Jim could fix for me. I would have loved a Jim’ll Fix It medal – even more than a Blue Peter badge, and that’s saying something considering the things those badges could get you in to! I always said when Mr. Fixit died my childhood would officially be over. And now it has happened – Sir Jimmy Savile has passed away, 2 days short of his 85th birthday. Despite the fact that I never met the man, I am genuinely sad. A legend of my childhood has gone; an era has come to an end. RIP Sir Jimmy Savile, first and last presenter of Top of the Pops and fixer of children’s wishes. You shall be missed!
Regular readers who’ve been around for a while (are there any of you?!) may remember me telling the story of my friend’s baby, Ellie, a while ago.
For those who don’t, here’s a quick recap.
At 28 weeks gestation, Ellie was diagnosed with Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD). As the name suggests, it’s a kidney disease, but it also affects the lungs, heart and other things. At birth, Ellie’s lungs were too small while her heart and kidneys were enlarged. She faced a life of dialysis,, medication, hospitals and transplants. Unfortunately, her lungs were just too weak and at 40 hours of age, Ellie passed away surrounded by her loving family.
After Ellie’s death, her mum, Naomi – a friend of mine from school days – started raising money for charity in her memory. Initially she was collecting for Tiny Lives, a charity associated with the hospital where Ellie was born. After only starting in February 2011, she’s managed to raise over 4,000 pounds, which I think you’ll agree is amazing! But no Naomi is going one step further and doing something even more amazing (in my opinion). She’s setting up her own charity in memory of Ellie – 4Ellie-Phant. 4Ellie-Phant will “be working to provide children and babies with Magic Memories Keepsake boxes, to help them smile and make sure they capture all the memories they can during traumatic times” (that last bit being a direct quote from the website http://4ellie-phant.webs.com/ ). To help them get started on their way to registered charity status – for which they need to raise 5,000 pounds, I will be holding an online auction of handmade stuff in November, which is why I’ve been making Christmas cards for over a month now! Naturally I’m hoping you, my loyal readers, will dig deep and buy some of my stuff, if only to save me from the embarrassment of ending up not getting a single bid. And because I love you all sooo much I’m even giving you a sneak preview of some of the items that will be for sale. Only cards for now, but there will also be keyrings and jewellery, so watch this space if that’s what you’re interested in! in the meantime, here are some cards. I must apologise for the blurriness of some photos – not sure what went wrong, but I shall sort it out before the actual auction pictures go online! And now, without further ado, I shall let the photos do the talking…
My replacement BahnCard arrived on Friday, so yesterday I was actually able to take the train to work as normal instead of working from home, as I had been for most of last week. I was actually quite pleased to get back – despite the advantages of working from my own home (one of them being the opportunity to sleep for a whole extra hour but still start working earlier than I usually would. Lie ins. Bliss!). Sitting at home, all alone, just isn’t the same as being surrounded by colleagues. Admittedly the person I share an ofice with is on holiday this week, but I still have people popping in to ask me for help with a particularly badly written English text, and of course there’s always the tea breaks. A tea break all alone in your own kitchen seems pretty pointless to be perfectly honest. And after spending all of Thursday and most of Friday at home, by the time I signed off from work’s system I was suffering from cabin fever! in fact, I phoned Jan and asked him if he would meet me for food somewhere because I just had to get out of our flat! If I ever did go freelance I would definitely have to rent an office somewhere that I could go to at the beginning of each day and escape from once work was done, otherwise I think I may just find myself going crazy!
I’ve been working from home today – and will be again tomorrow (my lovely work let me to save me the €14 per day I would have to pay for train journeys otherwise. And I know it doesn’t sound like loads, but considering I already pay €350 per month for the card that’s gone missing and I’m paying a €30 replacement fee for the new one I think Deutsche Bahn have had enough off me for one month!). I had been sitting in front of the computer for basically the entire day, apart from a tiny break to cook lunch (tea breaks just aren’t the same when you’re alone), so when I logged out of work’s system at just after 5 pm I decided fresh air was needed, and headed into town to see if I could track down some pink paper. I went to Karstadt, because they sell everything (well, not quite everything, but lots of stuff). After finding and purchasing my paper, I headed down to the food deaprtment, because Karstadt is the one place in this town that sells English chocolate and I felt the need to treat myself to a Cadbury’s Flake. Browsing the fridgey bit for something to make for tomorrow’s lunch, I spotted a microwave dessert. Topfenknödel mit Erdbeers0ße, said the packaging. Topfen is the Austrian word for Quark (a kind of curd cheese) and Knödel means dumpling. So they were dumplings made from a dough that uses Quark. Sounds strange, but they’re actually really nice. Especially swimming in a sauce of Erdbeeren (strawberries), as these ones were. A tempting treat, I’m sure you’ll agree. Except my eyes, tired from 8 and a half hours of staring at a computer screen, read Totenknödel. Tot, in German, means dead. And a Tote is a dead person. My brain had decided that Karstadt are now selling corpse dumplings. Mmm, delicious! :-s
My plan for today was to write a post extolling the virtues of Paris. I wanted to tell you how I finally tracked down the Statue of Liberty in Luxembourg Gardens (the first time I was in Paris, I had read about it but couldn’t find it, leading Jan to think I was imagining things. The second time I discovered the place it was meant to be, complete with a sign telling me it was currently on display somewhere else. This time it was there, but without its torch). Instead, I am going to tell you about how my purse disappeared somewhere between paying to get into the Catacombs and going out for a meal to discover my brother’s 21st birthday.
I have no idea how it happened. I spent most of my time holding the zip of my handbag firly closed with one hand while being alert for suspicious looking people at the same time. The only time I wasn’t holding my handbag closed was when I needed both hands to take a photograph, and then I checked that there was nobody near me first. ANd ye somehow, somewhere, my purse disappeared. To make things even more mysterious, my purse was tucked down at the side of my bag. So a pickpocket would have had to pull up the velcro flap, unzip the handbag, entirely ignore the bag containing Jan’s medication and my camera, which were lying on top (at least if it was taken while the camera was in the bag. If I was taking a photo the camera was obviously in my hand) and then rummage around until they got their hands on my purse. I have no idea how anyone could have done that without me feeling it. The alternative is that I dropped the purse at the catacombs, thought I had put it in my bag and walked away down the stairs leaving it behind. But if that was the case, both my sister and her boyfriend (who were behind me) must have missed it and the purse must have been taken from the floor before any member of staff noticed it and picked it up – Jan called the catacombs the next morning (he speaks French) and they didn’t have it. Neither did the bar where we went for a drink pre-meal or the restauarnt where we ate said meal. It is gone. Disappeared off the face of the Earth. So today I worked from home so I would have the chance to go to my bank ebfore it closed (at 4pm, would you believe!) and order a new card. You have to go in personto show them your ID and sign a form. They also let me take money out using my passport. Actually, it was kind of cool. The woman asked me how much I wanted, programmed the amount onto a card then I had to go to a cash machine. The card was eaten and the amount I wanted came out. Much better than standing in a queue for one of the two counters that was open! My new card could take up to 10 days to arrive, but I can get more money out using my passport any time, as long as the bank is open.
Slightly more annoying is the loss of my card for the train. I was hoping to get a temporary paper one while I waited for the replacement to arrive. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Instead, every time I get on the train, I have to go to the ticket inspector, tell him my BahnCard is lost and get a receipt. I then have 14 days to take the receipts, along with my replacement card, to a counter at the train station where I will have to pay €7 per journey. The replacement card could take anywhere between 5 and 10 days to arrive. And I also pay a €30 fee for the replacement itself. I don’t even want to try to add that up right now – it’s too depressing. But even without doing the actual maths I know it’s going to be a lot.
But even that is not the worst part. No, the most devasting part is that my purse contained a photo of my step mam – one of three I actually own, and the only one I had in Germany with me. It wasn’t a particularly special photo – just one of those taken in a photo booth, showing her and a friend. But it was hers. She had 2 copies and her friend had the other 2. About 2 years after she had died, we found her 2 copies in her old vanity case, and my dad let my sister and I keep them. And now, my copy is gone. My sister thinks she has lost hers too, but she’s going to have a look for it and see if she an scan it in for me. But even if she does find it, the scanned copy won’t be the same. It won’t be the actual photo that belonged to Shirley. And so I shall mourn its loss, just for a little while.
Today was Reunification Day (Tag der deutschen Einheit), Germany’s national holiday, which meant my office was closed. ABout time a holiday fell on a useful day! A long weekend is never to be sneezed at. I decided to seize my extra day off and take the opportunity to get some crafting done ready for my auction – which I promise to actually explain to you all one of these days. I now have a grand total of eleven cards. For those of you who couldn’t believe I was starting on Christmas cards in September, now you know why. I am slow! I really must get on with things though, if I want to make all the Christmas cards to send to my family as well. Have I taken on too much, I wonder? I’m actually quite proud of a few of my cards. I’m definitely getting better at this creativity lark – surprising really, seeing as I had absolutely no talent for art at school. I’ve grown up knowing that my sister was the artistic one. The intelligent one as well, come to think of it. I wonder which one that makes me?
I’m planning on making some more cards after work one evening this week. For now though, I’m all crafted out. I shall dream of glitter tonight, I’m sure! At least that will be better than dreaming about being pregnant, which I have twice recently. And no, I am not before anyone gets any ideas!!