December 2019 recap

Hello friends. It is the first Thursday of the month, of the year… of the decade. Wow! I have some 2020 goals to tell you about, but before I do that I want to draw a line under last year – starting with telling you what I did in December.

I’m linking up with the wonderful Kristen, of course.

whats new with you

Days out and socialising

We don’t do much travelling in December, so I’m lumping a few things in together. On the 7th we went to Baden-Baden to meet up with my friend and her boyfriend and to go to the Christmas market. None of us had been to the Christmas market there before and it turns out it’s a nice one. And it’s always nice to catch up with friends. The same friends then came to us to celebrate New Year. They arrived in the afternoon of the 31st and we played board games together before indulging in some delicious raclette. We then went into town to watch the fireworks, which start at 12:30 a.m. here, so technically that part belongs in January’s recap.

Baden-Baden Weihnachtsmarkt

In between those things, I met up with a pen pal from New Zealand who happened to be in Basel for one day only. I showed her, her husband and their sons around Basel a bit, which of course also included a visit to the Christmas market. It was nice to put a face/voice to the person behind the letter.

Basel Christmas market

On 20th December, my last day of work for the year, I finished slightly early I went to Zurich to meet Jan after work. I wanted to see the lights on the Landesmuseum (which Lyndsay had posted a photo of on Instagram). We decided we didn’t want to join the very long queue though, so instead we walked down the Christmas market in front of the opera. By the time we got there it was raining heavily, but I found myself some food and we huddled under a crowded shelter while I ate it. Jan wasn’t hungry and neither of us felt like drinking Glühwein in a downpour so we gave up and took a tram back to the train station. So much for celebrating no more work – I might as well have stayed home and cleaned!

The next day was a friend’s birthday (Jan’s friend really, from one of his choirs). She celebrated at Klara, which is a cool place with a bar and various different food stands. That day was photo an hour, but I haven’t written my post for that yet so stay tuned for that one!

Apart from that (and going to England), the only travelling I did was on the days I had to go into the office, which doesn’t really count. One of those occasions was for my work Christmas meal though, so that was nice at least. I stayed the night in a hotel and worked in the office the next day.

England and Christmas

After all the crap that went on this year, I decided I wanted to spend Christmas in England for once… especially since this could be the last time Jan can actually travel there easily! Since we had the birthday party on the 21st, we flew on the 22nd. As always, there were a lot of people to meet. On the 23rd, we went to Morpeth in the morning, where we met up with my mum for breakfast. I also saw the Tree of Light. For a small fee (the money goes to charity) you can write a message to hang on the tree. My grandma hung three messages on it – one for my grandpa, one for my step-mum, and one for our boys.

Morpeth Tree of Light

We then decided to drive around for a bit before it was time to meet my friend and her sons to exchange gifts. We had a walk along Blyth beach before driving up to Tynemouth for a brief glimpse of the priory. Then it was time to meet my friend and exchange Christmas gifts. Her eldest son is my godson so I needed to remind him what I look like 😉 It had been nearly two and a half years since I last saw them. In the evening we headed to Newcastle to meet up with another friend and his girlfriend. I can’t even remember the last time I saw him, but I know I had never met his girlfriend and they’ve been together two years! Crazy how time goes by. We met for food at a place called Nudo, which was delicious. I had the most amazing fried dumplings.

Tynemouth castle and priory
Tynemouth Castle and Priory

 

Christmas Eve was actually a relatively free day. We got to sleep in for a bit, then we had to pick up a package from Jan’s sister that had arrived the day before. We then joined my dad for a brief drink – he was meeting up with my former brother-in-law, who I hadn’t seen for about 10 years, give or take, came home for dinner and just chilled in the evening. I think maybe we watched some documentary.

Christmas day started with presents, of course. My dad gave me a book I had asked for, Jan got my board games and my friend gave me some beautiful Christmas tree decorations with the boys’ names carved on them. They will definitely be going on our tree the next time we have one! Christmas dinner was the usual feast – turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets, both mashed and roast potatoes, bread pudding and various vegetables. Afterwards my dad, his partner and my brother went to visit her family while we drove to my mum’s to spend some time with her and my brother. More gifts were exchanged, of course. One of mine was Lush bath bombs, so now half the clothes that were in the suitcase smell like Lush! The evening was spent back at my dad’s playing Cards Against Humanity.

Boxing Day, or Saint Stephen’s Day if you prefer, was more of the same… presents and way too much food. We went over to my grandma’s in the morning for gift-giving followed by lunch. We were joined there by my sister and brother-in-law as well as a friend of my grandma’s.

Boxing day lunch
“Light lunch” grandma style – there was also soup and a giant chocolate and pear trifle

Later we met my mum and brother in the pub before walking up to their place for more drinks and some snacks. It was a lovely chilled afternoon/evening. My dad picked us up, along with my sister and brother-in-law (and their dog) at around 10 p.m. as we were all staying at his place that night. I gave my brother-in-law an Only Connect (TV quiz show) book for Christmas and we had a go at some of the puzzles before heading to bed. We actually did reasonably well!

On the 27th, we had arranged to meet with yet another friend and her husband. We went for lunch at a pub called The Snowy Owl… you can see Christmas consisted mainly of eating! They got married last year (we went to the wedding), bought a house this year and she is also pregnant so obviously they’ve had an exciting time and had a lot to talk about. The pub was having an issue with the gas so the food took a long time to arrive, but once it did it was pretty good. Back at my dad’s, I went through some of my boxes of books that were still there (I was looking for a locked-room mystery for Erin’s challenge and ended up also taking a few more), then we packed the suitcases and walked up to a local pub with my uncle, sister, brother-in-law and the dog. My brother joined us there as well as some friends of the family. It was another nice evening catching up with people. My dad came later and, since he can’t really drink at the moment, acted as designated driver for various people. Once we got home, we basically went straight to bed since we needed to be at the airport by 10 a.m. the next day. And that was Christmas. Not too much rushing around, but still lots of catching with family and friends and no time to dwell on the fact that this should have been our twins’ first Christmas.

Craft stuff/cross stitch

Obviously all my December crafting involved Christmas. I cross stitched many designs and then made them up into cards. Here are a couple of my favourites:

Miscellaneous/general life stuff

Obviously the majority of December was festivities, but there are a couple of other things to mention as well.

– At the beginning of the month, I had an appointment for another hysteroscopy. Unfortunately the doctor ended up not being able to carry it out – apparently my cervix was in a weird position, then once she figured that out there was too much resistance and she didn’t want to force it and end up doing more harm than good. So after 4 or 5 attempts she gave up and I have to try again this cycle. That means at least another month until we can do another embryo transfer, but hopefully once the hysteroscopy and associated cyst removal is done our chances of the transfer actually working will be increased.

– My dad was declared cancer free the week before Christmas, and his hip pain is also slowly improving. Hopefully that marks the beginning of the end of my family’s run of bad luck! That will most likely be the last time I mention what’s happening with my family on here, since as I said last month I find it unfair to write about other people on my blog.

That’s it, I think. I will post a round-up of what I read this month on Show Us Your Books day, but I can tell you now that it isn’t as many books as usual – partly because I was busy, but also because I was mostly reading It and that book is long!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, surrounded by the people you love the most, and have entered the new decade refreshed and ready to face whatever life has to throw at you (preferably more good things than bad, and only minor bad things!). Don’t forget to check out the link up, say hi to Kristen and see what’s new with everyone else.

Christmas plans

The boyfriend and I booked some flights last night. I’m actually going home for Christmas!!
This is something of a novelty. Last year I stayed in Germany because I had to work, the year before my flight was cancelled because London was engulfed in thick fog and they weren’t letting any planes in or out. So provided the weather doesn’t do anything nasty this year (fingers crossed please!) Jan and I will be arriving in Newcastle at around 10pm on Friday the 19th December. I can’t wait! Not because I’m a particularly big fan of Christmas. I’m just looking forward to the time off. And of course it will be good to see my friends and family, drink alcohol on (gasp) week nights and for once try to pretend I actually have a life outside of work (and the internet). It will also be an excellent opportunity to ignore the fact that the end of January is D-Day, with the D in this case standing for “decision”. You see, 31st January is the last day of my internship… that’s when the boss will be deciding whether to keep me on as a fully-paid employee or not. Waah, I get nervous just thinking about it!

The A to Z of me

Somone sent me this as an email. You’re supposed to complete the sentences that apply to you then send it back to whoever you received it from plus a bunch of people you think should do it too. Instead of emailing it I thought it would be a fun thing to blog about, so I’m going to do it here. I also think it would be great if my blogging friends did it too, so I hereby tag Katyboo, Welsh Girl and Hails over at Coffee Helps. Only if you want to of course. If anyone else reading this would like to do it too please feel free – just leave me a comment with a link to your post so I can pop over and have a read.

Did I by any chance just make my very first meme?
OK, here it is.

The A-Z of Me

A is for Ann. That’s my middle name.

B is for books. I like those a lot. In fact, I’m slightly obsessed with them. I would hate to live in a world eithout books. B is also for blogging, which I feel deserves a mention as it seems to be developing into my new obsession.

C is for Canada, somewhere I have never been but would like to go. Visit Canada is on my list of things to do before I die.

D is for dolphin. My favourite animal. I swam with dolphins at Zoo Marine in Portugal. It was a present from my mum and sister for my 24th birthday. D is also for dog. I am definitely a dog person. Cats are mostly either evil or stupid. Sometimes both.

E is for exercise, something I really need to start doing more of. The ten minute walk to the tram stop just isn’t enough…

F is for friends and family. My friends are the most important thing in my life. I don’t have many and find it hard to make new ones, which makes me appreciate the ones I do have even more. It’s just a shame most of them live so far away. My family come a close second in the important things stakes. We don’t always get along but when i need them I know they’ll be there for me.

G is for Germany, the country I’ve lived in for the last two years. I first came over at the end of 2003 for my compulsory year abroad. Jan and I got together in February 2004 then six months later I had to retrun to England. After spending a year there completing my degree followed by a year as a language assistant in Austria I decided it would be nice to actually live in the same country as my boyfriend again. It also didn’t hurt that I actually like Germany and still had a few friends here.

H is for homeless. I have no real home any more. Here I have a room in a student residence. In England I have a room at my dad’s place. Nowhere do I have a real home to call my own.

I is for icecream. I like icecream, especially posh icecream or the kind that comes in interesting flavours, such as those made by Häagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s. I is also for igloo. Wouldn’t it be cool to go inside a real one, built by actual eskimos?

J is for Jan, aka “the boyfriend”. We’ve been together 4 and a half years now and I can’t quite belive he’s managed to put up with me for so long. Mind you, for 2 years it was long distance so really we’ve only been in a regular relationship for 2 and a half years. Not actually living together probably helps too.

K is for kitchen. I love to cook, but not for myself. It’s much more fun when someone else is going to be tasting the result. I also love baking but unfortunately don’t often find the time for it.

L is for languages. I currently a speaktwo – English, as my native language, and German. I would like to learn a lot more, including Spanish, Ukranian and Italian.

M is for mother. I hope to be one some day. Ideally I would like three kids, but that’s looking less and less likely as the years go by.

N is for names. I’m fascinated by names – the meanings behind them, the fact that a name that’s definitely female in one country may be male in another. It’s all very interesting… honest!

O is for orangutan, just because they’re cool. When I was little I thought the word was “orangutang”.

P is for potatoes, my favourite food. I could live on potatoes. Baked, roast, fried… anything goes. Except boiled – boiled potatoes are just boring! Mashed potatoes on the other hand are the ultimate comfort food and fantastic on a cold, miserable day.

Q is for quiz. I used to go to pub quizzes with my dad. Occasionally my team even worn. I like the pub quiz at Flynn’s here in Karlsruhe – you can win a special prize for putting down an answer that they think is funny or clever. Usually the special prize (a bag full of crisps, sweets and maybe a random alcopop) is better than the real prize (whiskey, which I hate).

R is for red, my favourite colour. I wore a red dress at my 21st birthday party. It cost me 150 pounds, the most money I have ever spent on one item of clothing.

S is for Shirley, my future daughter’s middle name. My step mum was called Shirley. She died when I was 12. My first daughter is having Shirley as a middle name in her honour. Any man that can’t understand that isn’t worthy of being the father of my children.
S is also for siblings, of which I have three. A sister, who is two and half years younger than I am, and two half brothers one from each side of the family. The brother on my mum’s side is almost 18 (how did that happen? He was just a kid a few years ago!). The brother on my dad’s side has just turned two.

T is for translator, what I will hopefully be in a few years time. Right now I’m a trainee translator. The ideal job for me would be translating children’s books, but there’s not much money in it so it would have to be on the side.
T is also for travel. There are so many places to see, so many cultures to learn about. Why stay in one place all your life?

U is for university. I’m currently studying part time for my Master’s in Translation, via distance learning. U also happens to be for the name of my university, UWE, the University of the West of England.

V is for variety, the spice of life. The old saying is definitely true for me – I would get so bored if I was forced to do the same thing all the time!

W is for writing. For a long time I wanted to be an author. I still haven’t entirely given up on that dream, although now I don’t think I have the talent. I did do an OU fiction writing course last year though so you never know.

X is for x-ray, because it almost always is. I’ve never had one though – no broken bones here!

Y is for yellow flowers, something else I like. My favourite is daffodils, but I also love sun flowers. Yellow roses are pretty too.

Z is for zzz, as in sleep. I’m good at sleeping and tend to get irritable when I don’t get enough. Sometimes, when I’m really tired, I’ll just cry for no reason.

OK, that’s me done. Now it’s your turn…