Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


Friday letters

Good morning! I have been the wooooorst blogger this week. Even more so than previous weeks, which you would have thought was impossible. I just can’t be bothered to switch from one computer to the other immediately after work (and I’m not supposed to use the work laptop for personal stuff). Plus, now I’m home all the time, I feel like I no longer have any excuse to not stay at least kind of on top of the housework. So yeah, blogging kind of falls by the wayside. And now I have plans for almost every weekend between now and the end of October, which is good but leaves me with almost no time for other stuff (blogging, reading, cross stitching…). But enough of that, on with Friday letters.


Dear September. I see you, waiting to pounce. How did you get here so quickly? I’m not ready!!

Dear Goodreads/Amazon. I want all the books, and it’s your fault! Well, yours and my addiction’s. But it’s you that adds fuel to the fire.

Dear “baby” brother. Not such a baby anymore! Hope you enjoy your 9th(!!) birthday on Tuesday.

Dear Basel. A street festival tonight and then a beer festival tomorrow (plus the jazz festival we attended last Friday evening). You spoil us with all your events! There definitely was not this much going on in Karlsruhe…

Dear England. Five weeks until I see you again! *Note to self: Get flights booked soon!*

Dear Lion King musical. I am excited to see you next weekend! Hope the tickets arrive soon…

Dear Tea. I’m glad our plan to see The Lion King worked out at such short notice. Can’t wait to see you and show you my new home!

Right, that’s all I have time for now. I have a tonne of work to do today. Have a great weekend, everyone!


A Wedding in Wokingham

Bearwood College

My cousin got married this weekend at Bearwood College in Wokingham, so I had a (literally) flying visit back to England: flew out on Friday morning, attended the wedding on Saturday and flew back yesterday afternoon. It was worth it though – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many members of my mum’s side of the family in one place! In fact, the last time I saw some of my cousins some of the other cousins weren’t even born! (That includes the bride, who I hadn’t seen in at least 12 years and unfortunately didn’t really see at the wedding either, other than to say congratulations as we left the room the ceremony was held in. She had a baby a few weeks ago and by the time I went looking for her she’d already taken him home).

I can’t post any pictures of people because I don’t like to do that without permission, but I can show you few of the venue and the decorations. The location was amazing! We even saw a deer when we first arrived and were waiting outside for things to start happening! Unfortunately my camera ended up on a wrong setting and most of my photos turned out blurry or too dark, but a few are vaguely okay.

Here’s Bambi, plus a shot of the hall (yes, there are people on that one but I think they’re far enough for it to be okay).

The groom’s mum  made the cake! I was amazed – it looked so professional. And she also made the chocolate lollies that each person had at their place at the table.

Wedding cake

Instead of a number, each of the tables had the name of a place that holds some significance for the bride and groom. Ours was Bruges, which I presume is just somewhere they’ve been on holiday. The most important tables were Slough, which is where they met, and Windsor Great Park, where the groom proposed.

The food was delicious! Pork belly with Bramley apple sauce and chorizo to start, followed by steak with hand-cut chips and then Tart au Citron for dessert. The vegetarian’s obviously got something different, but I don’t remember what that was.

We continued partying until around 11:30, took a taxi back, then headed to the bar at the hotel for a night cap as it was my mum’s birthday the next day and she wanted to stay up until midnight. It was a really nice wedding, the bride looked beautiful (I’m sure I won’t look anywhere near that amazing less than 2 months after giving birth!) and it was amazing to see so many members of my family. It had been four years since the last big family gathering. Hopefully this time it won’t be as long before I see them all again!


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.


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


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


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.



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 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 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.


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


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


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!


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.


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.


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!


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


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.


Christmas preparation: Gifts

Rebecca over at is doing a 12 Days of Christmas linkup, with a different theme every two days. I won’t be taking part every time (I don’t even have anything to say for some of the topics!), but I thought I might join in a couple of times.

The first prompt in the link up is Christmas presents, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to moan about how stressful all the buying/wrapping/posting of presents is! So far, I’ve managed to get one package of gifts to the post office and sent on its way to England. For a small fortune, I might add. I think I paid more to send the parcel than I did for all the items inside it! Currently, my spare room floor looks like this:

Christmas gifts

What you see here is part of my godson’s Christmas present (Lego Duplo!), gifts for various other friends’ children, part of my sister’s Christmas gift and some Lebkuchen that’s going to a friend. The book is for my sister as well, but for her birthday which is right after Christ,as. The drawer behind the pile is also full of gifts – these ones are currently living on the floor because the drawer is full! I’m hoping to get two more packages sent off this week, then I just have to work out what to get for the awkward people in my life (I swear my dad’s girlfriend is the most difficult person to buy for on the planet!). I think I can be forgiven for being a little complainy/stressed, don’t you?

If you want to join in with the link up, click the button below.

12 Days of Christmas - Link Up!


The anti-Christmas card

My dad is known as the Scrooge in our family. He’s not really a Scrooge – he makes Christmas dinner every year (and even made me one in August once), buys thoughtful gifts and will happily play silly games after Christmas tea. But since my step-mum died on Christmas Eve, it’s understandably not his favourite holiday. For years, we didn’t even put the tree up, although now that my little brother is old enough to understand Christmas the house gets decorated again. So when I decided to cross stitch all my cards this year, I knew my dad’s couldn’t feature any of your run-of-the-mill festive designs. Instead, I designed and then stitched the picture below, and even though it’s pretty simple I have to admit I’m really proud of it!

Bah humbug

Now all I have to do is actually make it into a card.


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?


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.


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.


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

This has been a bit of an odd week – between the funeral on Monday and a day of planes/running around airports on Tuesday before starting my working week on Wednesday, I’ve spent the last few days a) feeling completely exhausted and b) being completed confused about what day it is! Then this morning I had to come in to work early to do something that I had planned to finish from home last night, except I couldn’t because we got a new modem yesterday and the Internet wasn’t working. Grrr! I can’t wait for things to get back to normal next week (even if that does mean working for five whole days ;-))


Dear grandpa. We had a lovely send off for you on Monday. It was sad (of course), but the things everybody said about you were lovely. I’m so proud to have been your granddaughter. Love you always.

Dear Paris airport lady. I would have thought having to repeat the first few things you said to me in English might have given you a hint that I don’t speak French. Apparantly not though, as you then proceeded to repeat the same thing to me in French three times before eventually repeating it in English in a very pissed off tone. Yes, I can understand that having to repeat yourself is annoying, but in this case you brought it upon yourself!

Dear Internet provider. So, first your technician tells the boyfriend that our Internet will be back up and running within an hour, then your customer support hotline claims it will take 12 hours only for us to still have no working Internet at 6 o’clock this morning. Your 12 hours were up at midnight… get it sorted!

Dear books. I’ve read a lot of you over the past few days. This makes me happy :-)

Have a great weekend, everyone!
Daily Diaries with Diaries of an Essex Girl


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,048 other followers