Travel Tuesdays: Edinburgh

Since I have absolutely nothing to talk about today, I’m linking up with Alex from Ifs, Ands and Butts and Helene In Between for Travel Tuesdays. Today I want to tell you about one of my favourite places on Earth: Edinburgh.

Edinburgh castle
Edinburgh castle

I first went to Edinburgh as a child, for the sole purpose of going to the zoo (Newcastle doesn’t have one, so we traipsed to Scotland… as you do). I’ve since been there several times and actually managed to look at things other than the animals.

The most recognisable landmark in Edinburgh is, of course, the castle. One thing you really must do in Edinburgh is head up there for a close-up view. It’s pretty impressive (well, it is a castle). As is the view you get of the city from up there.

Castle entrance
Castle entrance
I can see the sea from up here!
I can see the sea from up here!

One of the things that attracts me to Edinburgh is the architecture. I’ve already mentioned the castle, of course (did you know it’s built on an extinct volcano?). Then there’s St. Giles’ Cathedral, with its incredibly intricate entrance archway.

St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles’ Cathedral
Entrance to St Giles'
Entrance to St Giles’

But even the ordinary residential buildings appeal to me. I would LOVE to live in a house like the ones below – just imagine how much light those windows must let in!Houses

Then there are all the parks and green spaces. Here’s Princes Street Gardens:

GardensAt the back, you can see Waverley Station – another example of the impressive architecture that Edinburgh has to offer. Other park areas include Calton Hill and Holyrood Park. So much green right in the city!

Apart from the many things that I will never tire of looking at, the main thing that draws me to Edinburgh is its cultural offerings. I have been lucky enough to be there both during the Fringe Festival and at New Year (Hogmanay), and on both occasions there’s so much to see and do that you can’t possibly fit it all in! The Edinburgh festival Fringe, which takes place in August, is the world’s largest art festival, and a showcase for the performing arts. Theatre, comedy, dance, music… everything is represented. We were able to take in an improvised comedy show and see some live music by two very good acts (a folk band and a blues/country/folk musician named Eddie Walker – you can check out his website here). The pub where the gig took place is now my absolute favourite place to go for a drink in Edinburgh. The Guildford Arms is located just off Princes Street, so very central but not as touristy as the places directly on Princes street or along the Royal Mile. They have ten different Real Ales on tap (heaven for my boyfriend) and there’s also a restaurant upstairs, which I’ve unfortunately never tried. If anyone out there has/does, please let me know how the food is!

Eddie Walker at the Guildford Arms
Eddie Walker at the Guildford Arms

Our New Year’s trip to Edinburgh had just as much to offer as the Festival Fringe. We took part in a torch-light procession through town, starting from the Royal Mile, took in a candlelit concert at the Cathedral and spent New Year’s Eve at the famous Hogmanay street party. Then, on 1 January, we attended the open-air New Year’s concert, which that year featured KT Tunstall plus three other acts… for just 11 pounds a ticket! Probably my favourite New Year’s celebration ever!

Torch-light procession
Torch-light procession
KT Tunstall
KT Tunstall

 

Other things to do in Edinburgh include many museums (the Palace of Holyroodhouse, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland, is interesting, as is The Royal Yacht Britannia, now decommissioned and permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal in Leith), whisky tasting if you’re into that (The Scotch Whisky Experience is in Edinburgh) or shopping. The main shopping street is Princes Street, where you can find loads of UK high-street shops, such as WH Smith, while the Royal Mile holds the more touristy shops plus any number of bars and restaurants.

Holyroodhouse Palace in the rain
Holyroodhouse Palace in the rain
Old Fishmarket Close, off the Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Old Fishmarket Close, off the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

So, in summary, Edinburgh is brilliant and you really should go there! Now hop on over to Alex’s blog for more tales of travel!

Travel Tuesdays

Home alone!

 

Jan had to leave for his dissertation conference thingy at 5:30 this morning (yawn!), so I am now boyfriend-free for a whole week. Of course,most of that time will be spent at work, but for today it’s just me and the flat. Her are my plans for the day:

A whole pot of tea and some biscuits all to myself. No need to share!

Tea and biscuits

Two new cross stitch magazines for me to read – and pick out projects that I’ll probably never get round to stitching!

Cross stitch magazines

A selection of my favourite music playing on my BlackBerry!

Currently playing: Poets of the Fall - All the Way/4U
Currently playing: Poets of the Fall – All the Way/4U

(By the way, it’s incredibly difficult to take a photo that actually shows which song is playing rather than just the reflection of my face/the camera/the ceiling…)

Staying in my pyjamas, fluffy socks and slippers all day!

PJs

And just because it’s so cute, have a bonus picture of my teapot dressed in an owl tea cosy:

owl cosy

Later, I shall be starting my spring clean, but for now it’s time to relax and enjoy having the place to myself.
Have a great Sunday everyone!

 

My life in music

I stole this idea from The Laughing Housewife, whose version you can see here.

Put together a musical playlist of songs that describe your life, including what you hope your future entails.

I was born in 1983, precisely 18 days after my mum turned 20 (product of a teen pregnancy. Shock, horror!)

My dad and later my step dad were both in the army, so the family moved around a lot. I got used to always being the new kid.

When I was 12, my step mum died. She was only 29 years old – the same age I am now!

A year later, I moved up North to live with my dad.

For university, I went to Nottingham (half way between my parents at the time!) to study German and International Relations. My degree included a year abroad. I came to Karlsruhe – the first time I’d left the country by myself!

After a turbulent three month relationship with an American (who I’m still friends with – he’s now married with his second kid on the way), I started a relationship with Jan. Six months later, he went of to the US while I returned to England to finish my degree.

After nearly two years of long distance relationship (after graduating I moved to Austria for 10 months), I moved back to Germany to finally be with Jan. I had been a language assistant in Austria and loved it. In Germany, it was hell and a major part of why I decided becoming a teacher was not for me! So I signed up for a Master’s in Translation instead.

While I was studying for my Master’s (online), I did an internship at a translation company, then got a job as a translator, which ended after 10 months for economic reasons, before ending up at the translation company where I work now just over three years ago.

And my hope for the future?

(Apologies if any of the music doesn’t work – for some reason the sound isn’t working on this computer).

Sometimes staying home alone is the best policy

In September, Jan’s choir took part in an event called “The Westside Festival”, a musical and culinary event that took place in and around a square in the western part of Karlsruhe. One member of the choir was involved in organising the festival, which is how the choir came to be involved in the first place. The “headliner” (so to speak) of the festival was a group calling themselves “The Westend Girls” and because those who were organising it weren’t actually able to watch the performance – being too busy dealing with organisational matters – the group are performing again, just for those who were involved in arranging the festival. T – the choir member who was one of the organisers – managed to get the rest of the choir invited as well, so that’s where Jan is as well. Apparantly there was some space for extra people (although it would quickly run out if everyone brought a plus one), so he invited me to come along. After much deliberation, I decided this morning that I didn’t feel like it. I was tired and didn’t think I’d be in the mood for staying out late.

This evening, waiting on the platform to come home. I was pleased I had decided against going out. It was cold, my train was delayed and every now and then a gust of wind would drive a flurry of snow into my face. Not pleasant! So instead of listening to a group of singers on the opposite side of town, tonight shall consist of pyjamas, nice hot tea and my latest cross stitch project. Sometimes, staying home alone is the best policy!

Tea anyone?
Tea anyone?

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!

A surprise and a concert

Hello!
Did you all have a good weekend? I did, but it was very busy, which meant I spent most of today trying not to fall asleep at work and wishing I could just go home already.

We had tickets to a concert on Saturday evening, after which a friend was planning on staying over, and Jan had been telling me all week to keep the afternoon free because there was something he really, really wanted to show me at the Natural History Museum, which was having an open day. The thing at the museum (at this point I had no idea what it was!) was starting at 4 p.m. and the concert was at 8, so I thought I had better prepare some food before hand in case there wasn’t time for cooking in between the museum and the concert. I decided to make a Couscous herb and fruit salad from the BBC food website which I’ve done twice before and was a hit both time. And I bought some chicken breasts for us to quickly cook and season to go with them.

I finished preparing the salad at 3 o’clock and my friend’s tram arrived at 3:07. Perfect timing! The three of then had a cup of tea together before heading off the the Naturkundemuseum where we found…. hedgehogs! To be specific, a presentation on hedgehogs which was followed by the listeners getting to stroke the hedgehogs that had come to visit. They were so cute! One of them was just born in August. He’s still a baby… awww! And no, I didn’t get prickled (as someone on Facebook asked me). So, that was my surprise… and now I really want a hedgehog! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photo of any of the hedgehogs (the one I was closest to was being held against a woman’s breast… somehow I don’t think she would have appreciated me whipping a camera out!), so here’s one from the Internet instead. I do love their little faces 😀

A young Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). Espera...
A young Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus).(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the museum, it was off back to my flat for food, then we had to head to Europahalle for the concert. We went to see the Wise Guys, who are a German a capella group who do some serious but mostly funny songs. In German, unfortunately, so most of you won’t understand but here is one for the German speakers amongst you. It’s called Denglisch, and is about how English (and pseduo-English!) expressions are taking over the German language.

I hope it works ok. This computer doesn’t actually have any sound at the moment…

My ex-colleague had come from Luxembourg for the concert (it was actually her that suggested Jan and I go too, seeing as we live in Karlsruhe!) and it was lovely to see her. The concert was really good as well – the Wise Guys are very talented and the songs were pretty funny. I didn’t understand everything, of course, but enough to have a good time.

On Sunday morning we met up with my ex-colleague and her friends again for breakfast – which involved me getting up at 7:30 a.m! Suddenly today’s tiredness doesn’t seem so surprising. We went to a place called Cafe Palaver, which is fabulous. The food is always really good and reasonably priced as well, for example 2 croissants with butter and a little pot of jam costs €4. Highly recommended if you’re ever in Karlsruhe!

After breakfast, the rest of the group had to head for the train station so Jan and I decided to go to the zoo (we have annual passes). We knew the snow leopards had had babies a few months ago, so we were looking forward to seeing the kittens (I think that’s what baby snow leopards are…), but we also discovered another new addition to the zoo. I want to visit the meerkats, because I think they’re great, and two enclosures down we discovered these guys:

Otters! They were so playful and kept looking up at the people watching them and squeaking, almost as if they were trying to communicate. They were probably saying “go away and let us play in peace!”. We then had an hour at home before K came over and we headed off to Mosbach to see another friend perform with her choir, but I’ll write about that in a separate post I think. I have photos to show you of the town (it’s very pretty!) and this post is already long enough…

Thank god for this beautiful view

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to work from home yesterday to give my colleagues a break from my coughing and myself a chance to recover.

At work, I regularly share a room with one colleague (there is also a spare computer in our room, which is occasionally used by interns and the like, but usually there are two of us). My colleague has the window seat, while I sit by the door. Occasionally I will look away from whatever translation I’m working on to try to give my eyes a break from the computer screen. Naturally, my gaze tends to be drawn towards the window on these occasions but, being so far away, I can’t really see much – just the top of the building next door. Not that I would anything more interesting if my desk was closer to the window. Our office looks out on a concrete courtyard which is usually full of cars. And because our room is almost the last one in our corridor, we tend not to get much sun in either. In fact, at this time of year we need the light on pretty much all day. So, while working from home, it was quite nice to have something else to look at than the various postcards I’ve stuck above my desk at work. Here is what I currently see outside the window when I look over to it from the computer desk in our spare room:

At that point in time, the sky was completely white with clouds, although there had been some blue sky early in the day. But despite the clouds, there is some sun coming from a place I can’t see, causing the trees to light up in all their autumn glory. The desk in our spare room is also at the opposite side of the room from the window, but the trees are tall enough to be seen from over there. And actually, if I was to go over to the window, the view would consist of a road and tram tracks (plus some grass a little further away), so it may, in fact, be a good thing that the desk is so far away from the window. This way, I only get the nice view (plus, if I am working from home, I’m less likely to be distracted by people watching opportunities. Unless someone starts walking along the roof of the building opposite there aren’t really any people to watch!). Despite the fact that my cough was annoying me a lot, I actually managed to gain some pleasure from gazing out at the pretty coloured trees (during my lunch break, obviously. I did get some work done as well 😉 ).

Have I mentioned recently that I love my flat? 🙂

By the way, the title of this blog is a line from possibly my favourite Tina Dico song, A Room With A View. Here’s the YouTube link for you:

Friday letters

As pleased as I am that it’s the weekend, I could swear it was only just Friday! Somebody seems to have fast forwarded my week! Oh well, I guess there’s nothing for it but to give you my second ever episode of Friday letters. Here goes…

Dear weather. I understand it is nearly November and cold temperatures are to be expected, but going directly from 21°C to 14°C was a bit of a shock to the system. That’s a difference of 7 whole degrees! Following this by dropping to 9°C today was just plain mean!

Dear brain. I’m not sure what’s possessed you to wake me up half an hour before my alarm on almost every work day for the past three weeks, but I would really, really appreciate it if you could stop now!

Dear portable DVD player thing. PLEASE stop skipping when I put a CD in you! You are currently ruining the music I’m trying to listen to and I am not at all impressed.

Dear Halloween. You are just around the corner and I can’t wait! I plan on spending this weekend sorting out costumes for the boy and I. And I really don’t care if we end up being the only people dressed up on Wednesday. It’s going to be amazing anywaqy – especially since the next day is a holiday in this part of Germany, which means lie in. Woop!

Dear Jillian Michaels. Your no more trouble zones DVD is excellent, but I don’t think I’m EVER going to be able to do the full 40 minute workout! So far the most I’ve managed is two circuits and Oh. My. Word. I thought I was going to die! Yes, I really am that ridiculously unfit. I will persevere though...

Dear Galaxy chocolate. You were sent to me a while ago, and I’ve been sooo good about not eating you that it seems you’re now technically passed your best before date. I guess that means I’m going to have to much what’s left of you this weekend. Such a shame… I do not think 😀 (Errm, sorry Jillian…)

That’s all from me. If you want to join in or just read more Friday letters click below:
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Tina Dico 2012

As I mentioned in Friday’s blog post, Jan and I went with some friends to see Tina Dico on Saturday. We went last year as wel and loved it, so as soon as I heard she was coming back to Karlsruhe this year I knew I had to have tickets, and she did not disappoint. Last year she had just one person with her, Helgi Jonsson (from Iceland). This year there was an entire band, which included Helgi on keyboard, trombone and harmonies. But she also performed some songs alone and one or two with just Helgi. And both the songs I had requested on Facebook were played, although I have no way of knowing whether she even saw my comment. She did ASK for requests for her Germany tour though, so I thought I might as well get mine in there. (In case anyone was wondering, I asked for One and Room With a View – the latter she actually played as a second encore, apparantly the first time she’s come out a second time throughout the entire tour. Or so she said). It was a great night and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

For those of you who don’t know who Tina Dico is, here’s a song for you. Enjoy!

Friday letters

I spotted this over on Moose Noose and thought I would join in this week.

Dear senders of packages. PLEASE do not use Hermes! They don’t turn up when they say they’re going to, regularly fail to ring the doorbell when they do turn up and the opening hours of their so-called “packet shop” (in a dry cleaners) are even worse than the post office!

Dear Friday. You have no idea how pleased I am to see you! It’s been a looong week. But on the plus side, I have managed to amass some more overtime, which means a day off is definitely in my future.

Dear weather. I’m loving the fact that you’ve decided to warm up again. Now if you could manage to stay like that all weekend that would be amazing!

Dear boyfriend. Thank you sooo much for suggestiong we order pizza for tea rather than me cooking something. Junk food is exactly what I need after this week.

Dear Tina Dico. It’s been almost a year now since I read that you were coming back to Karlsruhe in 2012 and around 5 months since I bought our tickets. Tomorrow it’s time for the concert. I can’t wait! And I really hope you sing One, because I love that song.

That’s it from me. You can read more letters here:

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