Friday letters

Is there any point in doing a Friday letters post when I just did a catch up post for the entire month of August yesterday? Could I possibly have anything left in my life to write letters to? Well, yes I could actually! Here they are:

Basel-postbox

Dear Switzerland. On Tuesday, I saw Lebkuchen in my local supermarket. On Tuesday it was still August! I know I’ve been stitching Christmas designs, but that’s no excuse for you to get the Christmas biscuits out. Just no, okay?

Dear little brother. I hope you had a fantastic 10th birthday yesterday. (Also, how is it you’re in double figures now?! Aargh, I feel old!)

Dear weather. If you could just stay like this for a week or two that would be fine. Warm but not OMG I’m actually going to die at any minute hot works just fine for me.

Dear autumn. I don’t need you short, miserable days and rain yet, but I am excited about all the autumn products that are starting to appear in the supermarkets. The return of pumpkin season? YES PLEASE!

Dear pumpkins. Speaking of your arrival in shops, why must you be so hard to cut? I would eat you every single day if only you weren’t so much work to prepare!

See, I told you I still had stuff to say? That’s enough for now though. Have a great weekend, everyone!

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My 2014

For the past two years, I’ve done a kind of month-by-month recap at the end of the year as I way to remind myself of everything I’ve done that year – where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved. Here’s this year’s version. I’m keeping photos small for this post so as not to overwhelm. Clicking on them should make them bigger.

January

We started the year on a high note watching the fireworks display in Madeira, which just happened to be on my 35 before 35 list. Woo hoo! I also counted that as my January trip for the take 12 trips challenge. And that was pretty much it for events in January. It was the first month of my English colleague’s maternity leave, and while my German colleagues complained of having very little to do, I was utterly swamped!

The famous Madeira fireworks
The famous Madeira fireworks

February

On 5th February, Jan and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary, which is quite frankly terrifying! A decade! What? How? And soon we’ll be celebrating 11 years. I just can’t get my head around it. We didn’t do anything on the actual day as Jan had a paper to finish, but a few days later we went for a (rather disappointing) Italian meal.

A week, later, I received a phone call from England with the news that my grandpa was seriously ill in hospital and wasn’t expected to last much longer (abdominal cancer). Thanks to my boss being lovely, I managed to get a week off at short notice and fly to England to be with him one last time. As it turned out, he survived for longer than the mere days or weeks that had been predicted, but I’m glad I saw him before he went really down hill so I was able to actually speak to him and have him know who I was.

At the end of the month, I took a spontaneous day trip to Bruchsal (the next larger town to the North of Karlsruhe) so that my trip for February wouldn’t have to be watching my grandpa die! It isn’t the most exciting town, but I did manage to see a few pretty things.

A stream running through Bruchsal
A stream running through Bruchsal

March

Jan’s birthday is the 1st of March, and this year I made him chocolate cupcakes to take to work. I’m informed they went down well.

Cupcakes
Cupcakes

Also in March, my grandpa was moved to another hospital (coincidentally the one where my mum works as a nurse – my grandma had to give her permission for my mum to work with him!).

17th March is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. Our favourite Irish pub did a full Irish breakfast the day before and on actual St. Patrick’s Day (a Monday) there was a party at the pub with live music. This year I was actually clever enough to take the day after St. Patrick’s Day off work so I could party all night!

Full Irish breakfast
Full Irish breakfast

March was another ridiculously busy month at work and involved lost of overtime, but I still managed to fit in my monthly trip. I went to the Gutenberg market in Karlsruhe for it. The next day, Jan and I took a trip to Colmar in France which is gorgeous!

April

April was Easter month, which meant a much-needed long weekend. Yay! Jan, K and I took a trip to Amnévile zoo. It was K’s first time there, but for Jan and I it was the second. The falconry display is amazing! On the way home from the zoo, K introduced us to Welcome to Night Vale, and we both instantly became big fans.

Amneville zooAlso, Jan and I looked after some friends’ pet birds over Easter weekend and succeeded in not killing them. Achievement of the year! 😉 At the end of the month, I took a trip to Heidelberg to meet up with some fellow English speakers in Germany. It was a great day out! Hopefully we’ll be having a winter meet up in January.

Heidelberg Castle
Heidelberg Castle

May

May 2014 will forever be known as the month my grandpa died. When the phone rang before I’d even left for work in the morning, I knew immediately what it was going to be, and I was correct. Again, my boss allowed me to spontaneously take time off (only 2 days this time) so I was able to go home for the funeral.

Before heading to England, I took part in my first reading challenge with Megan from Semi-charmed Kinda Life and Jan and I took a trip to Speyer to see an exhibition celebrating 40 years of Playmobil.

Playmobil "Indians"
Playmobil “Indians”

Also in May, I published my 1,000th post on this here little bloggy! Unbelievable! At the end of the month, another public holiday meant a long weekend, so Jan and I took a trip to Konstanz for a couple of days.

June

In June, we went to see a charity concert in Karlsruhe featuring Fish of Marillion fame, among others. We also went to the Hoepfner Burgfest (a beer festival at Hoepfner – a local brewery) and almost melted! It was hot. In the middle of the month, I attended a seminar in Mainz for work and managed to snap some shots of the pretty old town area.

Hoepfner beer
Hoepfner beer

For our anniversary, I had bought Jan tickets to see Pearl Jam in Vienna, and in June it was finally time for our trip there. Since the concert was on a Wednesday, we decided to go for the entire week. Last time we were in Vienna was for New Year and it was freezing, so it was a treat to be there when the weather was nice! We also popped across to Bratislava for a day trip.

The UN headquarters in Vienna
The UN headquarters in Vienna

July

My little brother came to visit us in July and we went to lots of places… Strasbourg, Basel, the Black Forest and Frankfurt. Not bad for a week! I also made crumpets while he was visiting, based on a recipe that my dad’s cousin gave me.

Römerplatz, Frankfurt
Römerplatz, Frankfurt

August

My birthday month… in which I turned 31! I didn’t do much for it though – worked all day then headed to the Irish pub for curry and a few drinks that night. I was working the next day as well so we didn’t stay out too long.

A firned in the UK sent me this lovely card and mini Smarties cake, along with other British goodies
A firned in the UK sent me this lovely card and mini Smarties cake, along with other British goodies

At the end of the month, Jan had to go to a conference in Taiwan, so we decided that he would take holiday and stay out there for an extra week, and that I would join him for that week. I had never had Taiwan on my radar, but I’m so glad we went! It was amazing and beautiful and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Also, Jan keeps telling people it’s like “China for beginners”, so if you want to go to China but aren’t quite brave enough for something that’s so different to the West, try Taiwan first. I just wish we could have stayed for more than a week, but I was short on holiday after all the time spent in England.

View of Sun Moon Lake from Wen Wu Temple, Taiwan
View of Sun Moon Lake from Wen Wu Temple, Taiwan

The end of August also marked the end of the summer reading challenge. Sadly, I didn’t complete it, but I was only one book away!

September

5th September marked 8 years since I moved to Germany, which came as a bit of a shock to me once I realised it! I accidently marked the occasion by heading to a cocktail bar I’d never visted befoe with Jan and K.

cocktails

Travel-wise, we didn’t do a great deal – I think we needed to recharge our batteries after the insanity of June, July and August! But we did manage to go the wine festival in Bad Dürkheim again and also fitted in a day trip to Weinheim so that I could complete my take 12 trips challenge.

October

I spent most of this month trying to figure out exactly why my stomach was hurting practically every time I ate (culminating in a gastroscopy in the middle of the month). On a day when I was feeling okay, I managed to go to a new café in Karlsruhe and sample some delicious scones. We then went there again later in the month for breakfast. So much deliciousness!

Sukie's cake shop
Sukie’s cake shop

The fact that my 12 trips challenge was over didn’t stop me from travelling! Jan, K and I took a day trip to Bad Bergzabern one warm Sunday then we spent Halloween in Paris watching a live show of Welcome to Night Vale. So amazing!

Meeting Cecil Baldwin!
Meeting Cecil Baldwin!

November

On the first of the month, we were still in Paris. We took in a few of the sights then visited an incredibly cool bar. And I decided to take part in another reading challenge with Megan. I started reading my first book on the train home.

November was also the month of my annual Christmas dinner for friends. Usually I don’t have it so early but all other dates were taken!

Christmas dinner 2014

On the final Saturday of the month, Jan and I took part in a culinary tour of Karlsruhe, which could have included more information but did not disappoint in terms of the food!

Delicious dessert at Zum kleinen Ketterer
Delicious dessert at Zum kleinen Ketterer

December

That brings us to this month, which is currently still in progress. I’m sure I don’t really need to remind you of what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks seeing as they’ve only just happened 😉 But this is supposed to be a reminder for my future self, so I will quickly mention a few things. December is, of course, the month of Christmas markets here in Germany and we kicked things off in style by visiting one at a castle! The following weekend, it was off to Speyer for their Christmas market.

Burg Hohenzollern Christmas market
Burg Hohenzollern Christmas market

Other than that, December has as usual been a whirlwind of gift buying, gift wrapping and queueing for hours at the post office to send said gifts. This year, I’ve also had the added stress of trying to get Christmas cards cross stitched and sent on time. I’m not sure what I was thinking there, but I’m starting to make the things in about March next year!

Santa and snowman card

We were planning on heading to Jan’s mum’s on Saturday for Christmas, but after he failed to organise things in time, it turned out his dad is away from 23-29 December and his mum informed us that she has a full house, we decided to spend Christmas at home. We’ll be heading up North on boxing day instead then after a few days with Jan’s family, we’ll take the train from there straight to Zurich for New Year (the original plan of Iceland was vetoed because it was too expensive, then Bruges fell through because we left it too late and there were no more reasonably priced hotel rooms available…)

This has been a bit of a rollercoaster year to be honest… or maybe more like a yo-yo? It’s definitely had its ups… but there have been a few downs as well. Obviously losing my grandpa was devastating and will forever cast a shadow over 2014, but visiting Taiwan was absolutely amazing! I also feel like Jan and I have grown closer again this year, which is obviously good. 🙂 On the other hand, I had no idea just how much extra work was going to result from my colleague being away for an entire year! I can’t wait for February when her baby turns one and she comes back to work!
Next year is mostly definitely going to bring changes it with it, and I’m both nervous and incredibly excited to see where life is going to take me next. Here’s to a fabulous 2015, for me and also for you, dear readers.

Friday letters

It only seems like two minutes since I came back from Vienna… and yet next week I have more time off! I’m working Monday then picking my brother up from the airport that evening, after which I have the rest of the week off. So far plans include a trip to Basel and a trip to Frankfurt (we’ve discovered there’s a Dialog im Dunkeln there too, so we’re doing that, and also going to the German Film Musem). What else we do will be up to my bro. But before that it’s the weeeeekend… and also about time I reintroduced Friday letters. It seems to have been a while.

Friday letters

Dear Deutsche Bahn. I realise technical errors happen and it’s not necessarily your fault, but having to take a regional (aka slow!) train to work the other day after every long-distance train going in my direction was delayed by 30 minutes and more would have been much less annoying if you’d just provided some information! I assume you know what’s going on, so tell people! Trust me, it will make your staff’s lives a lot easier. Oh, and while I’m at it, I do agree that air conditioning is a wonderful thing on a hot day, but if I need to bring a cardigan with me just for the train you’re probably overdoing it a bit!

Dear Good Reads. I was told you were fun, so I joined up. But nobody mentioned that being on your site would be very bad for my bank account. I get enough temptation from Amazon without your newsletters being added to the mix!

Dear Germany. Well done on your World Cup win! It’s nice to have a good team to fall back on since England are obviously never going to get their act together!

Dear weather. Pleeeeease stay exactly as you are and don’t return to the endless rain of last week. I want to actually do stuff outdoors while my brother is here!

Dear boyfriend. Thanks for buying teabags before I even realised we were almost out. You’re obviously a keeper 😉

Dear brother. Can’t wait to see you on Monday!

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have a great weekend. I have plans to go with a friend to an event of an English-speaking meetup group tonight. I don’t often go out of my way to meet English speakers so we’ll see what happens there…

p.s. If you like writing/receiving snail mail, check out Charlotte’s new project.

Looking forward…

Routine has got me firmly back in its clutches and I am not liking it at all! Any benefits I may have gained from the long weekend and trip to Konstanz  were instantly erased by several small jobs due the next day plus a badly written larger job that required me to do an hour of overtime from home in the evening. OK, an hour doesn’t sound like much… but when you already get up at 6 a.m. (wellll, alright… ten past), the last thing you want to do on arriving home is get back to work… But instead of dwelling on how tired I am and how awful working for 8 hours every single day is (I absolutely love my job, but something about the idea of spending 8 hours in an office every single week day for the next 40-ish years is just soul destroying!), I’ve decided to look forward to all the fun plans I have for this summer. Positive mental attitude, right?

June

On Tuesday, we are going to see a charity concert in Durlach starring our quiz master’s band, who will be accompanying (among others) Fish from Marillion (remember them from the 80s?), and Fools Garden, who became world famous with their song Lemon Tree but are actually from Pforzheim – just down the road from Karlsruhe!

In a mere 17 days, Jan and I are heading to Vienna. Last time we were there, it was New Year and freezing (we went into the butterfly house purely to warm up!), so I’m hoping for good weather this time! We’re actually going there to see Pear Jam perform on the Wednesday night (a gift from me to Jan for our 10th anniversary of being in a relationship), but personally I’m mostly looking forward to the Austrian food 😉 Hopefully this time I will finally manage to try Marillenknödel! This will also be my June trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge.

July

I love hosting visitors, but it so rarely happens. After my sister and her boyfriend came two years ago for the Formula 1, I insisted that now it’s my brother’s turn to visit… and he finally is, at the end of July! He’s actually been to Karlsruhe before, with my mum, but that was 6 years ago (when he was 17), and they were only here for two days. This time he can legally drink (well, he could have had beer or wine last time, but he doesn’t like either) and we have more time. I’m looking forward to showing him more of the local area.

August

Well, it’s my birthday month, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be working so that’s not too exciting.
BUT… I will be spending the last week of August in Taiwan! Jan is presenting a paper at a conference there from 18-22 August, so he decided to take a week’s holiday and hang around to actually see some of the place. Since he warned me far enough in advance this time, I was actually able to save some holiday so that I can go too. Jan will be going over a week before me for the conference, and I can’t say I’m particularly looking forward to taking two long flights on my own (or the four-hour layover in Dubai for that matter!). But hey, I get to go to Taiwan! (And also cross “visit a new continent” off my 35 before 35 list.) We’re currently looking into where exactly we want to go while we’re over there (the tour will obviously start and end in Taipei because, well, that’s where we’re flying from/to), so if you have any tips please send them my way!

And that’s it. OK, officially it’s not autumn unti the autumnal equinox (23 September in 2013), but September to me is an autumn month. And besides, I don’t have any plans past August yet so I couldn’t include September in the list even if I wanted to 😉

What do you have planned for the summer?

Friday letters… again?!

This has been one of the longest weeks of my life (colleague on holiday + large translation job = stress) but it still seems like only two minutes since the last time I posted Friday letters. With only nine days left until the end of September, I find myself wondering once again where on Earth this year has gone!! And it’s showing no signs of slowing down. *Sigh*.  Anyway…

Letters

Dear friends (and boyfriend). Thank you for the amazing “bee-day” party. It was a lovely surprise.

Dear Amazon seller. Please hurry up and send me my goods so I can post them to England in time for my little brother’s birthday…

Dear little brother. I cannot believe you’re turning 7 already! I remember you as a tiny baby who had to stay in hospital for weeks because you came way too early. Time flies!

Dear weekend. I am hoping you will be less hectic than the last one! No plans for you so far… other than the usual shopping/cooking/cleaning, that is…

Dear boyfriend. I basically haven’t seen you this week, so I’m pleased we’ve made a few tentative plans for September. I just hope we can find the time to finalise them!

That’s all folks. My lunch break is over. Have a great weekend!
(I’m including Ashley’s button although she probably won’t be hosting Friday’s letters for a while seeing as she’s just had a baby and all!)

Photobucket

Let’s try again…

I wonder if wordpress will actually let me post something today instead of deciding to eat my carefully thought out words. Only one way to find out I suppose…
Here’s an update on what’s happening in the world of Bev.

  • I’ve been at the new job one month today. I’m loving it so far. Everyone is nice, there’s lots for me to do and I can actually make mistakes without worrying that I may be (metaphorically) hung, drawn and quartered for it. Not that I purposely go out of my way to make mistakes or anything… but you know what i mean…
  • The one bad thing about work is all the commuting. An hour’s train journey means having to get up at a ridiculous hour of the morning, meaning by the time it gets to Wednesday I’m exhausted (of course, it doesn’t help that I have a boyfriend who is incapable of coming home at a sensible time, meaning we rarely get to sleep before midnight). And by the time I’ve sat on the train for an hour in the evening there isn’t exactly much time left for me to have a life outside work. All this will (hopefully) change now though. I’ve been paid, so for October I have a ticket for the fast train. My travel time is now reduced to 20 minutes each way, meaning I get an extra half hour in bed. Yippee!
  • My brother started university last week. He also turns 19 on Friday. I now feel old! Also, I haven’t managed to get him a present yet. Ooops.
  • I needed to take 20 photos after work today to complete my photo challenge for this month. I managed to take 5, leaving me with a grand total of 35. I think it’s fairly safe to say I’ve failed this month. maybe 50 photos was a little over ambitious…
  • My grandparents are having a party next friday to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. After looking at what felt like a million airline’s websites, Jan and I have finally managed to book flights. We’re going via Amsterdam of all places. Why can’t somebody just start providing a direct flight from Southern Germany to Newcastle? It would make my life so much easier!
  • Everyone seems to have gone baby mad at the moment! One of my dad’s cousins has just had a baby boy and I know 7 other people who are currently pregnant. 2 of those people are my dad’s cosuins. And another of his cousins is getting married in January.  My family just will not stop growing! It’s almost like we’re trying to take over the world…

OK, I think that’s everything. And even if it isn’t I need to stop now so I can go and sort out some food. Hopefully Jan won’t be too much longer… it’s 10 past nine now and lunch time was soooo long ago…

Today it’s NOT all about me

Today is A-level results day in the UK.
My little brother, who I swear was just a baby the last time I looked, was among those trooping down to my old high school to collect his exam results. And… he passed. In fact, not only did he pass, but he got some excellent grades (much better than mine!), securing him a place at his first choice of university. (Yes, in just a few short weeks my brother will be heading off for his first year at university. How did that happen?! Someone has been fast-forwarding time, I swear). My brother will probably never read this, but I don’t care. I want the whole world to know how proud I – and the rest of the family – are of him.

Well done Jay! You better be celebrating tonight (and tomorrow, and the next night… gotta get in practice for fresher’s week y’know 😉 )