Cocktails!

Last night, I met up with my friend K for food followed by cocktails. We decided to eat at Litfaß, which I like because it’s fairly cheap and does huge portions. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to finish my meal there!

The Litfaß sign... this is an old photophoto not taken last night
The Litfaß sign… photo not taken last night

After eating, we were going to head to a bar called Carlos for cocktails (I’d never been there), but it’s really small and turned out to be too full, so we moved on to Kap because I knew they do cocktails too. Jan joined us at around 10 o’clock and we finally left the bar at close to 3 a.m.!

I’d forgotten what it’s like to have a night out with a girl. Yes, I’ve been out with K before (Jan, K and I went to Freiburg Christmas market together, actually), but usually as part of a group and most times her (now ex-) girlfriend was there, too and I didn’t get to speak to K much. (Yes, I said ex-girlfriend. Yes, K is bi. Get over it already…).

Most of my friends here are male, and a lot of my friends back at uni were too. I seem to get on better with men… they’re less likely to get offended when I unthinkingly say the wrong thing, they don’t seem to mind when I go quiet because I’m feeling shy and don’t know what to say. Women tend to find me bitchy, weird or antisocial – and this is not me reading too much into things, but what people have actually told me. Men, for some reason, don’t – or maybe they do but just don’t care. So it’s been a while since I last went for drinks with a girl.

Another commentary on Friendship...
Friendship… (Photo credit: was_bedeutet_jemanden)

At the end of this conversation, K told me that she’s my friend. And I don’t think it was the cocktails talking ;-). Not bad for a random night out – yummy cocktails and a confirmed friend!

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Christmas baking – round 3

On Sunday, a friend invited us over to his place to bake biscuits. Obviously I jumped at the chance – all the fun of baking without getting flour all over my own kitchen again? What’s not to like! There were 9 of us in all, but we managed to do a pretty good job of not getting in each other’s way.

First we baked biscuits

biscuits in ovenThen we decorated them:

Christmas tree biscuitsWe had many different types. These are some traditional German biscuits known as Vanille Kipferln (Vanilla Crescents is the best translation I can come up with).

VanillekipferlThese ones were waiting to go in the oven when I took this – somehow I failed to take one of them after they came out.
These chocolate-coated biscuits are gluten free for the sake of one of the group. Can you tell I had fun decorating the teddy bear?

Gluten free teddy biscuitOnce we’d finished baking, we settled down to feast on our creations with a nice cup of Glühwein.

Christmas biscuitsA fun afternoon, but I don’t think any of us will be wanting a sugary snack for a while!

A surprise and a concert

Hello!
Did you all have a good weekend? I did, but it was very busy, which meant I spent most of today trying not to fall asleep at work and wishing I could just go home already.

We had tickets to a concert on Saturday evening, after which a friend was planning on staying over, and Jan had been telling me all week to keep the afternoon free because there was something he really, really wanted to show me at the Natural History Museum, which was having an open day. The thing at the museum (at this point I had no idea what it was!) was starting at 4 p.m. and the concert was at 8, so I thought I had better prepare some food before hand in case there wasn’t time for cooking in between the museum and the concert. I decided to make a Couscous herb and fruit salad from the BBC food website which I’ve done twice before and was a hit both time. And I bought some chicken breasts for us to quickly cook and season to go with them.

I finished preparing the salad at 3 o’clock and my friend’s tram arrived at 3:07. Perfect timing! The three of then had a cup of tea together before heading off the the Naturkundemuseum where we found…. hedgehogs! To be specific, a presentation on hedgehogs which was followed by the listeners getting to stroke the hedgehogs that had come to visit. They were so cute! One of them was just born in August. He’s still a baby… awww! And no, I didn’t get prickled (as someone on Facebook asked me). So, that was my surprise… and now I really want a hedgehog! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photo of any of the hedgehogs (the one I was closest to was being held against a woman’s breast… somehow I don’t think she would have appreciated me whipping a camera out!), so here’s one from the Internet instead. I do love their little faces 😀

A young Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). Espera...
A young Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus).(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the museum, it was off back to my flat for food, then we had to head to Europahalle for the concert. We went to see the Wise Guys, who are a German a capella group who do some serious but mostly funny songs. In German, unfortunately, so most of you won’t understand but here is one for the German speakers amongst you. It’s called Denglisch, and is about how English (and pseduo-English!) expressions are taking over the German language.

I hope it works ok. This computer doesn’t actually have any sound at the moment…

My ex-colleague had come from Luxembourg for the concert (it was actually her that suggested Jan and I go too, seeing as we live in Karlsruhe!) and it was lovely to see her. The concert was really good as well – the Wise Guys are very talented and the songs were pretty funny. I didn’t understand everything, of course, but enough to have a good time.

On Sunday morning we met up with my ex-colleague and her friends again for breakfast – which involved me getting up at 7:30 a.m! Suddenly today’s tiredness doesn’t seem so surprising. We went to a place called Cafe Palaver, which is fabulous. The food is always really good and reasonably priced as well, for example 2 croissants with butter and a little pot of jam costs €4. Highly recommended if you’re ever in Karlsruhe!

After breakfast, the rest of the group had to head for the train station so Jan and I decided to go to the zoo (we have annual passes). We knew the snow leopards had had babies a few months ago, so we were looking forward to seeing the kittens (I think that’s what baby snow leopards are…), but we also discovered another new addition to the zoo. I want to visit the meerkats, because I think they’re great, and two enclosures down we discovered these guys:

Otters! They were so playful and kept looking up at the people watching them and squeaking, almost as if they were trying to communicate. They were probably saying “go away and let us play in peace!”. We then had an hour at home before K came over and we headed off to Mosbach to see another friend perform with her choir, but I’ll write about that in a separate post I think. I have photos to show you of the town (it’s very pretty!) and this post is already long enough…

Why I’m a terrible friend

It’s only Tuesday, isn’t it? How is that possible? The last two days at work seem to have gone on for weeks! Sort it out will ya, time.
Anyway….

It’s been a while since my last “I am a terrible, horrible no good person with no social skills post”. Now it’s time for another one. Here’s something that’s been on my mind lately.

Jan thinks I’m a good friend because I keep in touch with people, remember birthdays and make an effort with gifts for every imaginable event. He, on the other hand, is terrible at replying to e-mails (I am too, but he never believes me when I say that!), has reminders of people’s birthdays on his computer but fails to actually do anything about them and would probably never see anyone if they didn’t make an effort to include him – or I wasn’t there to occasionally force him to respond to a message/invitation/whatever. So he has come to the conclusion that I am a good friend and he is not. However, in my opinion all that stuff is the easy part. Respond to a few facebook statuses, congratulate people on pregnancies, engagements and birth, keep a record of everyone’s birthdays (and their childrens) so you can get gifts and cards in the mail in time… none of that is rocket science. I look generous and my friends and family feel special because they received a parcel all the way from Germany (this is not why I do these things by the way. I realise this sounds like I’m trying to buy my friendships but I swear I’m not! I just enjoy giving birthday gifts/making people smile). But when you place me in the same room as another person, which, after all, is the whole point of a friendship – it can’t all be done via Facebook – it’s a different story.

Jan and I used to have the same argument over and over again. I would get upset because he never told me what was going on in his life, while he was convinced that I wasn’t interested in what he’d been doing because I never asked him anything about it. A typical converation would be something like this:
Me: How was your day?
Him: Alright.
Me: Oh, okay. *looooong silence during which I would usually get on with cooking while Jan sat down with his laptop*
Me: *Start rambling on about what I’d been doing that day/thelatest news from England/which of my friends had announced their pregnancy this time*

'awkward silence hour'
Photo credit: CRASH:candy

Eventually, I pursuaded Jan that just because I don’t ask any questions it doesn’t mean I’m not interested. I really do want to know about his day, I just have no idea what to ask. So he started telling me things without being asked and I tried to extend my repertoire of questions (I now have “what have you been doing today”, “did you get to do any work for your dissertation” and “how was your meeting” (only if he had one, obviously). Plus, after choir practice I also get to ask him how that went and how the other members of his choir are. Yay me… or something. Now, I am aware that the way to show people you’re interested in them is to ask questions, but beyond the standard “How are you?”, “how did your exam/job interview/driving test go?” and “How was your birthday/holiday/honeymoon” I have no idea what I’m supposed to say. It’s not that I’m not interested… I just honestly don’t have the words to show that I’m interested. Unless someone answers one of my standard questions with a nice long tale that screams out ideas for further questioning/comments I am completely lost. Which leads to awkward silences and me saying something random to fill in the blank, usually about something in my life because that’s the topic I know most about. And because other people do have social skills (or have possibly taken some master class that I wasn’t invited to in how to keep a conversation going), questions do get asked and the conversation remains on me, or goes off at some random tangent. The end result: I appear selfish, unfriendly and only interested in myself. Which would explain why I have so few friends (well, that and the things I’ve mentioned in previous whiny “I have no social skills” posts, such as my being ridiculously shy around new people, leading to me either not saying a word or overcompensating, talking too much and coming across as a complete weirdo. True story!).  But I have decided this has to change! I’m meeting a friend on Saturday (yes, an actual friend!) who I haven’t seen since July and I shall be practicing asking questions then. In the meantime, if anyone has any advice, book recommendations, websites or the like please throw them my way. Any and all suggestions gratefully received!

Yawn

I am still alive, just currently too tired to even string together a coherent sentence let alone a blog post.
This week has mainly consisted of overtime, overtime and more overtime – and today is only Wednesday!Combine that with very little sleep and you have Zombie Bevchen on your hands.

Last week I had a visit from two people who were my house mates at uni. One of them actually lived with my twice – the second time voluntarily! I hadn’t seen them for 7 years, so it was about time we met up! It was nice to show them around where I live.

Too tired to write more, so here  are some photos of Ettlingen – which is about 10 minutes tram ride from Karlsruhe – where I took my guests last Monday.

Ettlingen Town Hall
River Alb
Ettlingen Market Place with St George’s Fountain

(It has seriously just taken me half an hour to write this tiny little post, and I had to go back and rewite half of it because almost every word had a typo in it. I really must get some sleep! But not til after the Germany match…)

The land of blue and white porcelain

Last week we finally made it to Delft to visit a friend of mine. She’s been living there for 2 and a half years already and is planning on moving back to America (where she’s from) in the summer, so this really was our last possible chance! It was lovely to see her again, and I thoroughly enjoyed our few days there. Delft is a gorgeous town. I do like the Dutch style buildings, and of course there were canals everywhere. All this water brought with it a tonne of wildlife. Ducks, of course, but also coots, swans and even a heron that likes to hang around outside a house down my friend’s street waiting to be fed bits of fish and things. How cool is that? Other people have stray cats popping along to be fed, this house got a heron!

Heron, standing on a car waiting for his dinner

We also went to the Hague – had to be done seeing as it’s so close to Delft. The Escher museum there is fantastic and worth every single cent of the 7 Euro entry fee. For those who don’t know, Escher was a dutch graphic artist who did strange but interesting drawings, using strange perspectives and tesselation, among other things. A famous one is Air and Water, in which fish turn into birds. Fascinating stuff!

Our final trip of the visit was to Leiden, where we ate the most amazing pancakes! Huuuge things they were, with an interesting range of toppings. Jan and I had one with bacon and ginger and one with bacon, cheese and apple, which we ate half of each before swapping. Delicious! Having stuffed ourselves with pancakes, we went to work off all the calories at the windmill museum “De Valk”, meaning The Falcon. The windmill was actually working on the day we went, which my friend said she had never seen before, so that was something new for all of us (she has been in the museum several times – she used to live in Leiden – but in 2 years had never seen the blades actually turning).

De Valk windmill – now a windmill museum

We ended our visit on Friday evening by making sushi with our hosts, which Jan and I had never done before. It came out pretty well and tasted absolutely delicious! A great end to a lovely few days away.

Oh, baby

I’ve finally managed to finish the birth announcement cross stitch I’ve been working on for a friend’s baby. Phew! Relief! About time too – this child could arrive any day now!I was starting to worry that it would end up being like the picture a stitched for some friends of mine’s wedding, which I ended up sending to them after they came back from their honeymoon as I wasn’t finished any sooner than that!

Check it out! All I need to do now is insert the name and date of birth in the sce within the cloud, which I obviously can’t do until I have that information. I’m actually incredibly proud of myself for managing to do all the French knots on the Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I absolutely hate the things.

I also received word today that the gift I sent for my cousin’s baby girl (born on 5 January) arrived. I sent it over a week ago so was starting to wonder… don’t trust Deutsche Post or Royal Mail as far as I can throw them, and when both are involved anything could happen!

I can already see that this is going to be another baby filled year. Apart from the mammy of the lucky recipient of this cross stitch I currently know 5 other people who are pregnant – and we haven’t even made it out of January yet! I can’t wait to get started on my next new baby cross stitch 🙂 Hopefully I’ll manage to pick one without a million French knots this time…