Final Friday letters before 30!

This is the last time I’ll be writing Friday letters as a twenty-something. Let’s all take a moment to consider that, shall we?
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OK, enough considering. On with the letters!

George VI Postbox, Stragglethorpe, Lincolnshire
George VI Postbox, Stragglethorpe, Lincolnshire (Photo: Lincolnian (Brian))

Dear twenties.  You were an interesting decade. I graduated with 2:1 for my Bachelor’s degree, completed a Master’s, spent a year abroad in Germany, lived in Austria for ten months… then moved back to Germany, both loved (in Austria) and hated (in Germany) being a language assistant, decided I wanted to be a translator, completed a year long internship, worked for a not-so-nice company before finding my current job (which I’ll have been at for 4 years in September), travelled a lot, became an older sister for the third time… aged 23!, lost some friends, found out some other people never were friends… but also gained some friends who are way more amazing than those other people ever will be!! It’s been a rollercoaster, but overall the highs have outweighed the lows. I wonder what the next ten years will bring?

Dear readers. Sorry that first letter was so long! I hope you’re still with me 😉

Dear Frauenarzt. (Oh, alright – gynaecologist for the non-German speakers amongst you ;-)) Thank you for being so nice and patient… and from understanding that the scary Frauenarzt chair of doooom is kind of disturbing if you’ve never seen one before! (Yes people, I actually did it… I went and got my smear test done in Germany and lived to tell the tale!).

Dear work. I’d appreciate it if you could be less busy next week! I have two days off and I’d prefer not to spend the evenings of the other three doing overtime to catch up…

Dear Googlers. (Yes, that is a word!) Why have so many of you have found my blog recently by searching for “Tina Dico pregnant”? I’m just a fan… I have no idea whether she’s pregnant or not! She did have a baby last year though…

Dear Rocky Horror Show. I’m excited to see you on Sunday, but also intrigued as to what you’re going to be like in German!

Right, that’s it. I have things to do now. Have a great weekend everyone!

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Friday letters (off to the mother land)

Somehow, it is Friday again, and let me tell you I am ready for it! Of course, next week isn’t going to be particularly relaxing (trips to visit the family never are), but at least I get a break from the HUGE translations that have been taking over my days since I returned from Ireland… and will continue to do so after I get back from the upcoming week away.

English: Postbox for letters and bird box. Woo...
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Dear England. I shall see you in a few hours… for the first time in 10 months!

Dear flights. Please be kind! No delays, no turbulence and please no having to rush for the connection in Amsterdam!

Dear work. I sincerely hope you don’t get any more crazy while I’m away! I am already fully booked until about the end of August…

Dear boyfriend. I’m glad the doctor deemed your stomach ache to me nothing serious and you can still fly to England with me. I’m even willing to forgive you all the stress this morning now that you’re meeting me on the train as arranged 😉

Dear friends/family in England. I will try to see as many of you as possible, but please don’t be offended if I miss you out. It’s not that I don’t want to see you, but a week just isn’t that much time!

Dear readers. I’ve scheduled you a few of posts, but may not be able to visit your blogs or reply to comments until I return. Try not to miss me too much 😉

That’s it from me… it’s nearly time to go catch the train to the airport. Have a great weekend!

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Cross stitch, cocktails and a new dress

Hi!
Did you all have a good weekend? Mine flew by too fast, as usual, but I managed to cram a lot in.

On Saturday, I dragged the boyfriend shopping with me. After weeks of failure, I wanted to finally purchase a dress for the christening I’m going to in 2 weeks and I needed him along for a second opinion. We ended up in a shop called BiBa, which I’ve never been in before, and after trying on a dress that made me look completely shapeless, the shop assistant remembered something else they had in stock and came back with something else for me to try on. It fit, it emphasised my good bits (whilst hiding the worst of the lumps and bumps) and I liked the colours… even the little bit of pink on the front didn’t disturb me too much (I hate pink!). And – best of all – it was size XS (something I suspect had more to do with the shop’s sizing system than me). Jan liked it as well, so we decided to go with it, even though it cost slightly more than I had been planning to spend.
And now I bet you all want to see the dress, don’t you? OK… here it is:

Dress

That evening, we went to Karlsruhe’s beach bar. One of our friends couldn’t believe we’d never been, and insisted that we take the opportunity now the weather is finally nice. It could very well be raining again by this time next week, and there isn’t that much of the summer left any more. The place itself was nice enough… it’s on the roof of a multi-story carpark, which is pretty cool. You can watch the birds and, once it gets dark, see the stars. The service was incredibly slow though, and the cocktails I tried were a bit meh. The Mojito Razz (raspbery mojito made using Bacardi Razz) was nice enough, but the Hugo was far too sweet and Jan’s Sundowner was awful! Later, we moved on to a new place that Jan and I have walked past a couple of times and been meaning to check out. The Strawberry Colada I had there was amazing! Not too sweet and made with real strawberries.

Cocktails at Soul
Cocktails at Soul

Sunday was mostly spent alternating between housework and cross stitch. Once again, I’m rushing to get a gift finished in time for an event (last time it was a wedding, this time it’s a birth). Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Anyone feel like guessing what it's going to be? ;-)
Anyone feel like guessing what it’s going to be? 😉

I still have a long way to go before it even starts to resemble a picture! Guess what I’ll be doing with my evenings this week…
On Sunday evening, we were invited round to a friend’s place for dinner. We had peach chicken with couscous, which was delicious! This was followed by chocolate fondue with plenty of fruit for dipping. My waist line did not thank me, but it was so, so worth it! I also indulged in some Pimms and lemonade (now that’s what they Aldi should have had for their British Isles week instead of Buck’s Fizz… Pimms!). Good food, good company and wine… could there be a more perfect way to finish the weekend?

Weekend fun

I have more to tell you about Berlin, but the photos are taking ages to sort, so for now I shall tell you about my weekend instead.

Yesterday my friend brought her Wii round and a few of us had a games night. We invited my downstairs neighbour over so we couldn’t disturb anyone and did Just Dance. It was a lot of fun but sooo exhausting! And I can really feel my thighs today! At least I can definitely say I got my exercise this weekend! Photos do exist, but they will not be finding their way on to this blog ever.

Today, the sun was shining, so after watching Newcastle United lose horribly in a football match against their local rivals (I wish I’d stayed in bed!!), Jan and I headed out to look for signs that Spring has finally sprung. We found them in the form of blossoms… finally here a month later than usual!

Spring tree

My new shoes finally got their chance to go outside! Hopefully this is the start of this year’s good weather and I won’t have to get my winter boots back out again!

Polkadot shoes

Our yearly passes for the zoo ran out a week ago, so we decided to go and renew them, and pop in to the zoo while we were at it. We got to see the new baby giraffe! Very cute.

Baby giraffeWe also went to visit the alpacas, but they were too busy eating grass to pay any attention to us.

Alpaca

Walking round zoos is thirsty work, so we decided to head to a cafe and have an iced chocolate (well, I did. Jan had some yoghurty fruit thing).

DSCN2974

Then it was time to head home for our tea (or dinner, if you prefer), which is currently cooking. Meanwhile, I’m off to watch The Big Bang Theory.

Hamburg

So far, all the posts in my 30 German towns before 30 series have been about towns in the South of Germany (in fact, most of them have even been in baden-Württemberg), so I thought it was time to vary things a little bit. Today’s post shall be about Hamburg. While Hamburg isn’t the northernmost town in Germany (that would be Westerland), it is a lot further North than anything else I’ve told you about so far!

Hamburg Town Hall
Hamburg Town Hall

I went to Hamburg in July 2008 to visit a friend, Claire, who I had previously done an internship with. I actually wrote a little about my trip at the time, but I didn’t include any pictures (and it’s not exactly my most coherent piece of writing) so it doesn’t get to count for the series.

We managed to visit Hamburg on a weekend with perfect weather, which I’m told is unusual in Hamburg. Apparantly the town is known for being constantly rainy, but we got gorgeous blue skies and sunshine (at 31°C – around 87°F – it was actually almost too hot for me!)

Hamburg

There are two lakes within Hamburg city – the Binnenalster (Inner Alster lake) and the Außenalster (Outer Alster lake), the Alster being the river that was dammed to form the lakes. Here’s the Binnenalster:

Binnenalster
Binnenalster

Because we were visiting friends (as well as Claire, we met up with a friend of Jan’s) and didn’t have a lot of time, we didn’t actually see much of Hamburg. We arrived on Friday evening (having flown up there straight from work) and left again on Sunday. However, on Saturday morning we did go with Claire to see the Nikolai Kirche (St. Nicholas’ Church), which was mostly destroyed due to bombing in the Second World War and is now preserved as a memorial to everyone who died in the war.

The spire of the Nikolai church
The spire of the Nikolai church

There is a lift inside to take you up the spire. You get some great views from the top!

Inside the spire
Inside the spire
View from the top
View from the top

After we’d been up the tower, Claire had to leave us to go to work and Jan and I went underground to look at an exhibition showing photos showing Hamburg after the bombing of the Second World War. They also had a special section with photos from Coventry, showing the damage caused there by German bombs.

After the exhibition, we walked down to the river and the “Speicherstadt” (Warehouse District) of Hamburg – Wikipedia says it’s the “largest timber-pile founded warehouse district in the world” (whatever that means!). Here are some photos:

The River Elbe
The River Elbe
The Elbe and the start of the Speicherstadt
The Elbe and the start of the Speicherstadt

Speicherstadt

After walking around the Speicherstadt for a while, it was time to meet up with Jan’s friend, N. He took us on a ferry to a beach bar. On the way there, we saw the Lion King boat, taking people across the river to see the Lion King musical!

Lion King boat!
Lion King boat!

This is the view from the beach bar. I don’t remember what it was called, but I do know we drank Astra beer because that’s just what you do in Hamburg.

Sand

In the evening, we headed to the Sternschanze area of town, which N told us was the studenty part of town. We ate at an Italian/Greek restaurant then headed down to the Reeperbahn (when in Hamburg…) for some drinks and to meet Claire, once she had finished work. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to take a single photo of the Reeperbahn!

The next morning we got up late then Claire and I went back to Sternschanze for a delicious brunch. Jan stayed in bed nursing a hangover, finally coming to meet us just as Claire had to leave for work (the advantage of this was that he then brought the luggage so there was no need to have it with me at the cafe). Jan and I sat in the park for a while until it was time to head for the train station and back to Karlsruhe.

I absolutely LOVED Hamburg, or what I saw of it anyway. Our trip was definitely too short! With a population of more than 1.8 million (it’s the second largest city in Germany) I wasn’t sure I would like it, but it’s so pretty and didn’t feel as horribly overcrowded as some big cities (London, I’m looking at you!!) If I get the chance to go again, I’ll definitely do some more touristy stuff (they have 2 museum ships and I wasn’t on either!) and take more photos.

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!

Friday letters

Friday! Friday! Friday! (Can you tell I’m excited that it’s the weekend?).

I’m going out soon, and I still need to change out of my work clothes, so just a quick Friday letters this week.

Long Distance Relationships
(Photo credit: valordictus)

Dear people who find my blog by searching for “things to do when your bored”. Might I suggest grammar lessons? Then you could learn the difference between your and you’re and I would no longer feel like tearing my eyeballs out very time I check my blog’s search terms!

Dear woman who closed her car door for me to pass. There was plenty of room between the door and the building next to your car, but I still appreciate your closing the door. And you apologised! My faith that Germans do know what manners are has been restored! (At least until next time I hold the door open for someone at Karstadt and they don’t even acknowledge me! Germans, didn’t your mothers ever tell you manners cost nothing?)

Dear boyfriend. Thank you for washing my dishes when you came in on Wednesday night. I planned to do them before work on Thursday, but it was a pleasant surprise to find them already done.

Berliner Pfannkuchen, a popular German pastry
Berliner (jammy dougnuts) (Photo: Wikipedia)

Dear student worker. Thank you for bringing in Berliner (similar to jammy doughnuts) for everyone at work this afternoon. An excellent way to sweeten up our Fridays and make the weekend feel that little bit closer 🙂

Dear Friday night. It seems like forever since I last spent you somewhere other than at home. Tonight, I am going for food with K then we’re going to have cocktails! I’m way to excited about this for someone who turns 30 this year.

Not enough Friday letters for you? Find more at: http://www.thesweetseasonblog.com/2013/01/fridays-letters_25.html

Happy Friday everyone!

My 2012

I have seen a few blog posts reviewing 2012 and since the last few days haven’t exactly been filled with exciting things to blog about (all I’ve done is purchase and wrap gifts for the first few birthdays of the year – I have my sister’s, dad’s, grandma’s and two friend’s birthdays all in January – it’s like Christmas present shopping all over again!) I thought I would do one too. Because I have no mind of my own imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So here is my 2012 in a nutshell.

January

I started the year in Salzburg, Austria, which made me very happy. I think Austria may be my favourite country ever (sorry Germany!). It was sleeting on New Year’s Eve but we stood on a hillside and watched the fireworks anyway:

Salzburg fireworks
Salzburg fireworks

The rest of January was pretty uneventful. I finally completed a birth announcement cross stitch intended for the baby of a good friend – right in time as it turned out. The baby came two weeks later! Right at the end of the month there was some bad news – Barney, my family’s Yorkshre Terrier, had been ill for a while and on 30 January I received a message from my sister telling me mum had had to have him put down that morning. RIP little fellow. We still miss you!

Barney in 2009
Barney in 2009

February

February saw Jan and I celebrating 8 years together along with the birth of my friend’s baby boy he missed out on being a Valentine’s baby by one day, much to his mother’s relief!
At the end of the month I finally managed to visit my friend in the Netherlands – a mere 2 and a half years after she moved there! She has since returned to her home country (America) so it was about time we visited! We saw Delft (where she was living), Leiden and the Hague.

Delft from above
Delft from above

March

Jan had his birthday on 1st March, but we didn’t celebrate due to him being ill. On St. Patrick’s Day, Jan was away but I went to the Irish pub with some friends. Then work sent me to Göttingen for a seminar. Other than that, I don’t think anything happened that month.

April

In April, I finally paid off the overdraft on my English bank account – a relic from my student days. Easter fell in April last year and on the Saturday Jan and I took a trip to Würzburg.

Würzburg, River Main
Würzburg, River Main

A few days later our relationship hit probably its lowest point, with me telling Jan that if things didn’t start improving I would move out at the end of the year.  I was encouraged to have a little hope though as Jan actually listened to me and seemed to be able to see my point of view. As you may have noticed, the end of the year has now been and gone and I’m still here. We still don’t have the perfect relationship (but honestly who does?), but things have improved.

May

1 May is always a public holiday in Germany – it’s not moved the the nearest Monday like in England – so in 2012 it was a Tuesday. I went to the theatre with some colleagues to see an English play. The advantage of working with translators is that they’re always willing to watch things in English! This was followed by two more public holidays: Ascension Day on 17 May and Pentecost Monday on 28 May.
Jan was away with work for most of the month, first in Munich then in America, so I was left to entertain myself  On Pentecost Monday (or Whit Monday if you prefer) I went to the annual Hoepfner Burgfest –  a beer festival at a local brewery – and, through a complete coincidence, met someone who has since become my friend. Not bad for someone who really doesn’t make friends easily!

June

In June I had visitors! Two of my housemates from when I was at uni came to see me. We caught up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives for the past seven years(!!) and I got to show them around my adopted home town.

Karlsruhe Marktplatz
Karlsruhe Marktplatz

For the rest of the month I watched a lot of football (European Cup!) and worked way too much, resulting in me feeling the need to get out of Karlsruhe for the day. So Jan drove me to the beautiful Calw, birth place of Hermann Hesse.

July

July brought another round of visitors – my sister and her boyfriend came so we could watch cars speeding round in circles at Hockenheim. Oh alright, there’s more to Formula 1 than that, but not much 😉 We also went to Heidelberg, saw Maximo Park at Das Fest and took a trip to Europapark, a theme park about an hour and a half from here which I had never been to! Guests are good for something, it seems 😉

Rollercoaster at Europapark
Rollercoaster at Europapark

August

August was my birthday month – the last one in which my age will have a 2 at the beginning. This year I’ll be turning 30 (help!!). I insisted on going out for cake, but other than that we didn’t do a great deal because we had to leave for Stockholm early the next morning. I adored Stockholm, but I’m not sure I could live there all year round – I hear it gets stupidly cold in winter! I could definitely have a summer residence there though.

Stockholm
Stockholm

September

September brought with it a personal record for me as I realised it had been six whole years since I moved back to Karlsruhe. This also marked the month in which Jan actually started letting me know when he wasn’t going to make it home in time for dinner. About a month later this then became texting me at a reasonable time to say he was on his way – meaning we’ve actually been able to eat together for the past few months! A genuine breakthrough in our relationship (and part of the reason I did end up deciding to stay).

Towards the end of the month we went to England, the first time in over a year that I had been back! I spent my time seeing family, eating way too much and also got to meet three of the babies that various friends had given birth to in 2012. Also it rained a lot. The stereotype would say that this is normal in the UK, but believe me this amount of rain was far from normal!

York. The footpath along the river is completely under water.
York. The footpath along the river is completely under water.

October

In October I joined in with the Friday’s letters linkup for the very first time, went to see the wonderful Tina Dico in concert and, of course, celebrated Halloween. I went as a bat in a homemade costume.

November

All Saints Day (1 November) was yet another public holiday in my part of Germany, so I took 2 November off work, giving me a four day weekend to start the month with. Hurrah! We took advantage of the bridge day to go to Schwäbisch Hall. I then came down with the evil cold from hell, spent most of the rest of my four-day weekend in bed and even ended up working from home later that week because I just could not stop coughing. So much for November! I did manage to go to a Wise Guys concert on 17 November, but I wasn’t fully over my cold until a few days after that. I always went to Mosbach to see a friend perform with her choir and got slightly overexcited about Primark opening in Karlsruhe.

Primark fox scarf
Primark fox scarf

December

I won’t go into too much detail about the final month of 2012 seeing as it’s only just happened and I’m sure you can all remember exactly what it consisted of. If I were to sum up December in just a few words I think I would have to say Glühwein, baking, gift wrapping and way too much time spent at the post office!

The year ended the same way as it began – with fireworks. This time they were in Luxembourg, the second new country I visited in 2012 after Sweden.

Fireworks in Luxembourg
Fireworks in Luxembourg

2012 had its low points, but overall it wasn’t such a bad year. I made a new friend, travelled a lot more than I had expected and was able to spend time with people who I hadn’t seen for a very long time. Put in context like this, I can actually see that I had a pretty amazing year. Now let’s see what 2013 brings!

First Friday letters of the year!

Yes, I am aware that I’ve already blogged today, but there’s no way I was going to let that stop me from posting my very first Friday letters of the year!

New Orleans: Brass letter slot in old door, Al...
New Orleans: Brass letter slot in old door, Algiers Point neighborhood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear T. Thank you for your hospitality and for showing us round Luxembourg. We had a fabulous time. Can’t wait to see you again this year – wherever it may be!

Dear 2013. Finally, you’ve arrived! For an entire year, I get to end every single date with my favourite number (13 in case you hadn’t figured it out).

13
13 (Photo credit: zigazou76)

Surely this means 2013 has to be my year? I am hoping for good things from you, understood?

Dear Eddie Izzard. I am coming to see you in Berlin in April and I can’t wait! I received the e-mail today telling me my payment has gone in and the tickets are on their way. What excellent news for my final day of my Christmas holiday! (I’m back at work on Monday.)

Dear Cacharel. I looked in 4 different shops today for my perfume (one of which I know for a fact used to stock it) and failed to find a bottle. Your website no longer lists it under fragrances either. I am so not impressed!! Bring it back, please.

Dear L. Can’t wait to see you later! Has it really been almost 11 months since I visited you in Delft that time?!

Dear self. Tea is not going to cook itself, so get off the computer and get on with it, otherwise you won’t be ready when it’s time to go out and meet L!

For more Friday’s letters check out http://www.thesweetseasonblog.com/2013/01/fridays-letters.html and I’ll be back with another load next Friday. Have a great weekend everyone!

FINALLY Friday (time for some Friday letters!)

Day 340/365 - Letters to Santa
Letter to Santa (Photo: Great Beyond)

It’s Friday again, and this week I am unbelievably glad that it’s finally arrived. Work has been slow for past few days (which I actually find worse than when it’s stupidly busy and I have to do overtime – although the up side is that I got to leave at 3 p.m. today becasue there was just no point in me staying for another 2 hours) and it feels like everyone has just been waiting for the week to end. I am now on holiday for two whole weeks!! The thing I am looking forward to the most? Sleeping for more than 6 hours at a time! Anyway, here are my final Friday letters before Christmas.

Dear Thoughts Appear. You mentioning Gremlins on your blog made me realise just how long it is since I’ve seen that film. I didn’t have it in my collection, so naturally I had to order it, and it arrived the other day (in time for Christmas!). I’m sooo looking forward to watching it. Thank you for the inspiration!

Dear boyfriend. We’ve had our ups and downs, but overall I think this year’s been good. Thank you for making such an effort recently. I love you!!

Dear Christmas. I have finally written and posted all my cards, finished wrapping gifts and got all my parcels sent off (some of which probably won’t actually arrive on time…). I think I’m almost ready for you to come now.

Dear magic housework fairy. My flat currently looks like a bomb’s hit it, and I really want to get it cleaned up in time for Christmas. If you’re not too busy, a little help would be very much appreciated!

Dear friends. PLEASE could you stop having babies/getting married for a while? I now have three cross stitch samplers to do, for April, May and June and I have no idea how I’m going to manage!

Thank you
Thank you (Photo credit: Avard Woolaver)

Dear readers. Thank you for all your lovely comments on the state of my relationship. All of your opinions and advice are very much appreciated. As is the fact that you read my drivel at all. You are amazing – every single one of you!

Dear rest of the year. Do you think you could maybe go a little slower than the months leading up to you have? I need some time to sleep, and I also need to work on various cross stitch samplers (at this point, I feel the need to reiterate that I have three events to stucth for!), spend time with my boyfriend and we are going to Luxembourg for New Year. Of course, if the world ends tonight this won’t be necessary 😉

Dear world. If you’re actually going to end could you please get on with it. I’m sick of hearing about Mayan calendars now…

Dear boyfriend (again). Didn’t anyone ever tell you ebing ill on Christmas is not allowed?! You need to hurry up and recover from your cold. And don’t go giving it to me either – I don’t have time to be ill this close to Christmas!

That’s all from me. I now have to go back out in the pouring rain to purchase some vegetables for tonight’s tea. And after that I have a date with some dirty dishes. Housework fairy, I’m waiting!