Recent doings #21

Once again it’s that time of the month where I tell you all about what went on the one before. For August, it’s going to be a very holiday-filled one, because the first two weeks of the month were uninteresting and honestly I can’t really remember most of what I did, other than trying to cram in packing in the evenings leading up to our going away and wondering why I didn’t take the Friday off for precisely that purpose…

Anyway, let’s get to it.

whats-new

Reading. I read six books in August – or technically read 5 and finished reading one. Four were for Erin‘s reading challenge. I will tell you about all of them on Tuesday.

Listening to. Welcome to Night Vale! I actually took the audio book on holiday with me but we thought the hire car didn’t have a CD player so we listened to episodes of the podcast. Then, with only a few days left, I discovered a CD player hiding in the glove compartment. What?! So we’ve now made it through the first seven CDs and we’re nearly caught up on the podcast!

Watching. Something my dad had recorded about restoring old buildings. Before our holiday I’m not sure I watched anything…

Eating. I don’t remember what I ate before we went away. Probably lots of ice cream. On holiday I ate all the British foods I could cram in, although surprisingly no Monster Munch. Actually, very few crisps – just some Hula Hoops. I’m awful at food photography, but here’s a venison sausage with black pudding mash. Yes, it’s Bambi. And it was delicious.

venison sausage

Drinking. Cider in a multitude of flavours – the rhubarb one was nicest. I also treated myself to a can of Dandelion and Burdock and some point.

Buying. While we were on holiday I pretty much only bought food so I’m trying to think back to what I bought before that. Umm, a few books for the bonus round of the reading challenge and a T-shirt for my holiday are all I can think of.

Celebrating. My friend’s 30th birthday. She turned 30 at the beginning of the month, but had her celebration together with her mum over the August bank holiday weekend. Oh, and my birthday as well (I genuinely almost forgot about that!)

Travelling. To Britain, but you know that already ๐Ÿ˜‰ We also travelled to รœberlingen on Lake Constance to see Jan’s mum and her partner and did some driving around in Switzerland for my birthday.

Meeting. Fellow blogger Kezzie and her husband, who happened to be in Northumberland at the same time as us. They are both lovely, lovely people.

Admiring. Puppies! So many puppies… some literally puppies (but all dogs are puppies, right?). I swear every dog owner in England was visiting the same places we were. I even got to pet a few (dogs, not owners!).

Cross stitching. Birthday cards for my godson, another friend’s son and my little brother, as well as many, many PostPals children, plus a new baby card for a friend. I feel like every time I blink someone either gives birth or announces a pregnancy.

rocket card

As usual, I am linking up with Kristin and Gretch.

Have you been doing anything interesting recently?

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Holiday!

It feels like forever since I last had any proper time off, but now it’s finally my turn for a holiday! Tonight we fly to Gatwick, from whence we shall be travelling around Britain (well, mainly England really). I haven’t scheduled any posts and I won’t be posting while I’m away either, so this place will be devoid of activity for a while. Try to be good while I’m away ๐Ÿ˜‰ See you in September!

Lake Lucerne
Photo of Lake Lucerne from above for no particular reason…

Friday letters

Good morning! I hope you’re all well and that those of you who haven’t guessed already are busily wracking your brains for guess the Christmas cross stitch round 3! I’ve been suffering from a horrible cold all week. It started on Sunday with a bit of a sore throat, on Monday I didn’t feel any worse, which gave me hope that a sore throat was the worst I was going to get. Then on Tuesday I had to actually go into work for various meetings, which involved two hours on a freezing train. Why must Deutsche Bahn turn the air conditioning up so much?! I’m sure that didn’t help matters at all, because by the time it came to the journey home swallowing really hurt and I could not get warm at all! I went to bed with a cup of Lemsip and woke up feeling so terrible that if I was still actually going into the office regularly I would have called in sick. But since my “office” is only a few metres from the bedroom and my colleague was already off sick (for the second week), I wrapped up warm and powered through with the help of ALL the hot drinks and several packets of tissues (I could not stop sneezing!). It seemed to work as yesterday I wasn’t sneezing as much and my throat was back to being more scratchy than sore. How today will go remains to be seen, but I’m consoling myself with the fact that it’s almost the weekend and then I only have to work Monday and after that I’m on holiday – finally! Apart from one day for my cousin’s wedding, I haven’t had any time off since April, when I took a week to move! This cold just better have gone by the time I have to get on a plane… Anyway… sorry to ramble on so much. I know you’re only here for the letters ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mail boxDear cold. I was serious with what I said up there. I fly on Thursday and you had better be gone by then! My ears hurt enough on planes without a half blocked-half runny nose getting involved in matters!

Dear British food. I am coming to eat you, oh yes I am!! Proper chips, pies, decent bacon, pasties and yummy crisps… get in my belly!

Dear godson (and your mum). It’s been far too long! I can’t wait to see you.

Dear October. I’m actually not going to complain that you’ve arrived far too quickly (even though you have) because with you comes holiday!

Dear rugby matches we’re attending. Please be as exciting as the South Africa vs Japan match. We want some action! (For reference, that’s the three that are taking place in Newcastle. Now get on it, rugby Gods).

Right, that’s all from me for today. Keep placing your guesses on this week’s cross stitch post and I’ll get the next picture up for you soon. In the meantime, have a fantastic weekend!

Initial thoughts on Taiwan

I still have a couple of posts to write on my brother’s visit, but again uploading the photos to WordPress is taking forever, so I’m skipping forward to a general post on my impressions of Taiwan. Obviously I will also be writing detailed posts on our trip with lots of pictures, but this is a start at least. This trip allowed me to complete another item of my 35 Before 35 challenge. Number 29 on the list is “Visit a continent I’ve never been to before”, and I had previously never been to Asia. Thanks, Taiwan! I am also counting this as my August 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge… so it’s a double whammy ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now here are some first impressions/thoughts:

    • Do not drink on the Metro!! (In Taipei at least). You can carry drinks with you, but don’t even think about consuming them. This rule is taken very seriously! We were told off for this within hours of my arrival. Also, on escalators you stand on the right and let people pass on the left. Again, they are very serious about this and apparantly perfect strangers will shout at you for standing on the left (I did not experience this, but Jan says he did)
    • My reaction to bubble tea
      My reaction to bubble tea

      Bubble tea is weird! It was okay at first, but after a while the “bubbles” just became too much. What is that weird chewy stuff anyway? Also, the one we bought had small white things floating in it, each with a black spot in the middle (a seed, I suppose?). They looked like something I usually find in soup, but there they were in my drink. Weird! They tasted of nothing but had a soft/mushy texture. We christened them frog’s spawn.

    • It’s surprisingly difficult to get by with English in Taiwan. Most people speak a few words (hello, please, sorry and maybe a few numbers), but very few are fluent. An smartphone app or dictionary come in very useful! Jan had two – one that you could use to scan Chinese symbols and it would give you the English translation and one where you drew the symbol yourself – useful when the other one couldn’t read what you were pointing it at, because it was unclear or handwritten, for example. Also, before he left Jan had a Chinese colleague write him a sentence saying “I’m allergic to peanuts. Please tell me if there’s anything here I can’t eat”. If possible, I would highly recommend doing something like that if you’re allergic to anything.
No way was I going to eat one of these guys!
No way was I going to eat one of these guys!
  • I am happy to try most things, but just wasn’t brave enough for all the food I saw on offer, like whole squids on a stick (I’m not a fan of squid at the best of times!) and duck’s heads… complete with beak. How does one even eat a duck’s head? And what is there to actually eat? Surely all the good stuff is in the body? Also, oyster omelette is possibly the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Never again!
  • Drivers in Taiwan are crazy! If a light has only just turned red, it seems to be taken as a suggestion rather than an order. Some busy crossings have police standing at them holding sticks to wave traffic on… despite the existence of a light that’s in perfect working order?! And as for the people on scooters… I’m convinced they have a death wish! They’ll squeeze themselves into the tiniest gaps in traffic… some of them even with their small children perched in front of them on the scooter! Madness!
  • I was amazed by the amount of milk/dairy products the Taiwanese consume. I’d always thought Asians were basically lactose intolerant and rarely used dairy products (with the exception of India, of course). In Taiwan, milk tea is incredibly popular… and by that I mean tea made with milk instead of whatr, not just black tea with a drop of milk. At the hotels, I also saw a lot of Asians drinking milk with breakfast.
  • The temples are beautiful. And everyone is so tolerant. We stopped at one small, local temple near our hotel in Taipei to see what was going on (a celebration of Buddha’s birthday, it turned out). One man explained to us how the temple worked, gave us some incense and told us what to do. Then, when we asked whether it was okay to take a photo of the inside (don’t want to be disrespectful), he insisted on taking a photo of the two of us in front of it. His English wasn’t brilliant, but he was able to make himself understood and he was so, so friendly.
  • On a similar note, the Taiwanese are incredibly polite, to the extent that it’s almost embarrassing. They will thank you profusely for every tiny little thing, and one person even bowed his way out of the hotel room after showing me how everything worked. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond…
  • Sun Moon Lake may be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and the views of the Pacific along the east coast of the island are stunning! Taroko Gorge is also incredibly impressive. I’m told Alishan national park is also amazing, so I can see I need to go back and experience even more of the amazing sights nature has to offer.

That’s enough for now, I think. More details will follow in individual posts about the places we visited.

Friday letters and links

Today is my final day at work before a week off… and on Sunday I fly to Taiwan! Very exciting โ€“ although I’m not sure I’m looking forward to 13 hours of planes plus four hours of Dubai airport all by myself!. I’m sure I’ll survive though. In the meantime, here are this week’s Friday letters:

Postkasten

Dear child on the train. Yes, I know my teeth a wonky, thanks. Apparantly you don’t know it’s rude to point that out though! At nine, you should really know better than to make personal remarks.

Dear flat. I’ve done at least a little bit of tidying/cleaning every day this week, so why do you still look like a tornado went through you? Looks like tomorrow is going to be taken up entirely with packing and housework so we at least get to come home to a semi-decent looking place!

Dear work. You have once again been insane for the past few weeks. Much as I enjoy my job, I am sooo looking forward to an entire week of no translations!

Dear flights. Please be kind! If I’m going to be stuck on planes for half a day, I’d really rather it was without turbulence.

Dear tickly throat and occasional sneezed. Don’t even think about turning into a full-blown cold just in time for my holiday! Pre-emptive Lemsip will definitely be consumed tonight…

Dear boyfriend. Can’t wait to see you again!

Dear readers. Have a great weekend and don’t get into any trouble while I’m away ๐Ÿ˜‰

And now here are some links for you:

Ok, that’s it. Those should be enough to keep you entertained for a while anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

Daily Diaries with The Lotus Creative

Friday letters – Holiday time!

Between Monday being a holiday last week, the seminar in Mainz that caused my weekend to be only one day long and another yesterday I’ve spent most of the week being completely confused as to what day it was. But now it is definitely Friday and next week I’m on holiday!

Friday letters

Dear 30 day Squat Challenge. I am now on day 12. Yesterday I did 110 squats. That is a lot of squats! When do I get to start noticing a difference?

Dear Vienna. Can’t wait to see you on Sunday!

Dear scales. You and I are going to fall out if the number on you doesn’t start going down soon!

Dear sleep. I hope being on holiday will give us an opportunity to spend some more time together.

Dear throat. I fully intend to ignore your scratchiness until you go away. Don’t even think about turning into a full-blown cold right before I go on holiday!

Happy Friday everyone. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Ireland, days 13-14: Galway to Dublin and the end of the holiday

On the morning of Thursday 20 June, we checked out of our hotel and set off in the rental car for the last time. Destination: Dublin.

On the way we stopped in Athenry. Sadly, I didn’t see any fields there, otherwise I would definitely have taken a photo for the sole purpose of labelling it “The Fields of Athenry”.

A building in Athenry
A building in Athenry

Apart from the well-known song, Athenry’s main claim to fame is that it’s one of the most notable medieval walled towns surviving in Ireland. Our first stop was at St Mary’s Church, which is now Athenry Heritage Centre.

St Mary's, Athenry
St Mary’s, Athenry
St Mary's Church/Athenry Heritage Centre
St Mary’s Church/Athenry Heritage Centre

There was a school group there when we arrived, but we were told if we came back at 12 we could do the tour/experience thingy. That would have involved being given a history of Athenry, dressing up in medieval clothes and having a go at archery. We decided against it as the time on the car ran out at 12 and we also wanted to be in Dublin relatively early as we were meeting K’s dad there, so after we’d taken a few photos, we moved on to the castle.

Athenry Castle
Athenry Castle

The guided tour was ok, but not the most informative of the trip. The guide mentioned something about a dissertation though, so I suppose he was still learning. The audio visual show he switched on for us after the tour had some absolutely stunning photos from around Ireland – it made me wish we were staying longer so I could track down some of the castles and ruined abbeys. But whoever did the speaking was totally overdramatic. It was all a bit odd!

After the castle, we walked across a little park to take a look at Athenry Priory.

Athenry Priory
Athenry Priory

Athenry Priory 2

With the time on the car almost up, we decided it was time to continue our drive, so off we went, not stopping again until we reached Dublin.After dropping off two members of the group at Temple Bar – K to meet her dad and P because he was staying in a hostel near there – the remaining three of us headed to Rathmines Travelodge, where we were staying, to check in and drop off the bags. It was pretty decent for a Travelodge, I must say! Then Jan drove off to the airport to drop off the car while A and I went for a walk into town. We stopped at a small cafe on the way, where I wrote a postcard, then Jan told us he would be at the Spire at 5 so we let the others know then strolled over to O’Connell street. In the two weeks since we’d been there last, Dublin had become noticeably more crowded – it was easy to tell the real high season for tourists was now on its way! After meeting up with the others, we walked around a bit, did some window shopping (I was very good and did not buy anything in the second hand bookshop we went to!) it was off to the pub to meet K’s dad and eat our last evening meal in Ireland. The pub was Sweetman’s and is worth a visit!

Charlie relaxes in the pub
Charlie relaxes in the pub

The next morning we had breakfast at Travelodge (described as an all-you-can-eat continental breakfast, it consisted of various cereals, some roll things with chocolate chips in, fruit, yoghurts,, various jams and toast, as well as tea, coffee, apple juice, orange juice and milk to drink. Not bad for the price) then headed into town for souvenir shopping. I bought a fridge magnet for my mum and we met a leprechaun! He told us he was born in Germany but moved to the US when he was 8 and considers himself American. He had been in Ireland for 3 years now after meeting and marrying an Irish girl (who turned him into a leprechaun), and the two of them now have a little pot of gold. Everyone say awww!

Charlie meets a leprechaun!
Charlie meets a leprechaun!

We then decided to split up, with the other two going to buy more gifts for people while Jan and I found a cafe where he could write his postcards. We ended up at Cafe Oya, which was very cute! I ordered my last cup of tea with milk for a while… no point in even trying that in Germany! (Tea with coffee creamer is just plain wrong!)

Strawberry cheesecake and tea... with milk!
Strawberry cheesecake and tea… with milk!

At 2pm, we met up again, collected our luggage from Travelodge and took the bus into town, where we caught the airport express from O’Connell Street. Our flight ended up being delayed by an hour, which gave me time to purchase – and eat – one last packet of yummy crisps, then it was off back to Germany. Two weeks in Ireland had flown by! I don’t know about the others, but I had an amazing time and I hope I make it back there some day.

And that’s the end of my series on what we did in Ireland. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it! Next up on Confuzzledom: a post about biscuits and yet more on my travels… this time within Germany. Stay tuned!