A Photo an Hour: 21 November 2015

This post isn’t so much “A Photo an Hour” as “a photo whenever I remembered I was actually supposed to be taking photos”. We were invited to a party back in Karlsruhe on Saturday, and between missing trains, buying tram tickets in the rain and helping refugees find their stop, taking photos kind of fell by the wayside occasionally. Oops!

9.30 a.m. Oh dear, I forgot to take a photo when I got up! Better take one now! Packing the overnight bag.

11 a.m. After just missing the tram we needed, arriving at the station one minute after our train left and then having to buy new tickets because we had ones that we valid only for that connection, I finally got round to taking a photo again! Waiting for the train to arrive…

12 noon. Reading on the train.

1.30 p.m. At one, we were helping refugees figure out where they were going, so I decided to switch back to photos on the half hour. At 1.30 we were eating lunch at Café Pan.

2. 30 p.m. Still at the café. These are some decorations.

3.30 p.m. A spot of shopping while we’re in nice, cheap Germany!

4.30 p.m. A quick stop for some tea and cake at Sukie’s. We shared a slice of pumpkin cake and it was delicious!

5.30 p.m. On the tram to the party, carrying a gift in a cute froggy bag.

6.30 p.m. One of the other guests brought yummy éclairs from France!

Midnight-ish. Coat and shoes back on, ready to leave!

Well, I may not have taken a photo every hour, but at least I managed an even number this month 😉

Thanks as always to Jane and Louisa for hosting!

 

 

More German weirdness

BYOFUntil recently, all the celebrations I had been invited to in Germany were either house parties or involved a meal in a restaurant. That changed last month, and I have now been to two parties that were held in bars. At both events, beer, wine and various soft drinks were provided by the bar while the buffet was the responsibility of the guests.
Let me just repeat that… At a party, held in the function room of a pub, the host’s guests are expected to bring some food along. The first time, I thought it was a one off. The venue doesn’t have a proper kitchen – just a couple of hot plates where they can prepare things like soup – so it made sense that they couldn’t provide a full on buffet. But at the second party, the other room was open to the public as normal and food was being served there.

Now, I have no objection to contributing food. If it were a house party I would automatically bake something to bring along. But if someone hires a function room in a pub (or restaurant) I tend to expect some kind of catering to be included… either provided by the venue or by an external caterer… but surely not by the guests?! With all the health and safety issues these days, I’m amazed people are even allowed to bring their own random creations into such a venue. Who knows what goes on in some people’s kitchens!

Is this another example of German weirdness or is it just a coincidence that I’ve now come across it twice?
And is it only me that finds this kind of behaviour strange?

More Friday letters

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Photo5_red_ribbon (Photo credit: Jayegirl99)

Another week over, and another busy one it’s been. Ill colleague always means lots of extra work  for me. It’s over now though, thank goodness. Will have to make this a short post as I’m off to a birthday party tonight and need to get ready. Here are this weeks Friday letters:

Dear Americans at the bus stop. In the 4 minutes we were standing there, I actually lost count of how many times you used the word like – and the phrase I was like/we were like. Way to reinforce stereotypes! (Small sample: “Some people like come to class early and they like leave their bags on seats. Then they come back at like 10:15 and I’m like ‘who the hell are you?’”)

Dear “likers” of my blog. While it is nice to have people liking my blog, it’s a little scary when you do it within seconds of me pressing publish. The fact that you never actually comment does not make things better. Who are you and what do you want from me? (To those of you who like posts and leave a comment, I don’t mean you!)

Dear man at the train station. Thank you for rescuing my chocolate bar from the vending machine for me!

Dear weekend. I know I have lots of plans again, but could you please go by a little slower than the last one. After the week I’ve had I seriously need some rest!

Dear Primark. It’s probably kind of sad that I’m this excited about you opening in Karlsruhe, but I really don’t care. I LOVE my purchases (blog post on that to come).

Dear Newcastle United players. Could the injuries please stop now.  Six of our key players are out with injuries (plus a few I’m not sure about) and now Cisse is doubtful. It won’t be long before there are none of you left to play…

Dear sleep. I miss you. How does a lie in on Sunday sound?

That’s all from me. Party time!

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Little snippets

We have been doing stuff recently, but not enough to make up a whole blog post. Nevertheless, I promised to post more this year, so here are some little snippets from my life for you.

First of all, to the person who found my blog yesterday by searching for the term “German shopping blog”… sorry, but you’ve definitely come to the wrong place. Can you imagine anything further removed from my ramblings than a shopping blog? 😀 And now to the snippets…

Yesterday we came third in the pub quiz. At the last one, three weeks ago, we were first. Go us! The team that usually come first did really badly last time and left before the results were announced, knowing they weren’t getting a prize anyway. Talk about sore losers! This time they came second and didn’t seem happy about it at all. I would never have thought someone could pull such a long face after winning a round of drinks!

Jan’s dad turned 60 last Thursday, so at the weekend we headed up to Lower Saxony for his birthday party. It was a bit weird at first seeing as I barely knew anybody (only the 3 or 4 family members who were there), and Jan kept going off to talk to family friends he hadn’t seen in years, but I ended up having a great conversation with his dad’s neighbour, so that was nice. Also, Jan’s cousin brought her daughter along, who is almost one and who we had only seen in photos until now. She’s incredibly cute and was so well behaved! Even when she was getting tired there was no major tantrum – she just cried briefly, then as soon as she was in the sling on her mother’s front she went to sleep. If I ever have children, I hope they’re just as lovely.

At the end of April, Jan and I went to Ettlingen (next town over) to se some English folk music. A duo called Broom Bezzums was playing, who we had seen by complete coincidence in Ludwigshafen a couple of years ago. One of them is from the same area of England as I am, so it was nice to have a bit of a chat with him when he was signing my CD during the interval. They were followed by a second act – an Irish group called Beoga – who I didn’t enjoy as much (they were good musicians, but after a while everything started to sound the same), but we were only there for Broom Bezzums really so that was okay. The second act was just an added bonus.

On 1 May (which was a public holiday in Germany) I met up with some colleagues to go to a performance by the University of Mannheim’s English Theatre. They put on Black Comedy, which was hilarious and very well acted (in my opinion). We also went to Heidelberg to see the King’s Singers in April  (apparantly the best A Capella choir in the world – says the boyfriend who is into that kind of thing and who I bought the tickets for as an anniversary present) so I’ve been very cultural recently. And I bet you’re all really impressed 😉

And just generally, life is good at the moment. Jan and I are getting on really well and have been enjoying spending time together just doing nothing (almost unheard of for Jan – he usually wants to watch a film, play Scrabble, read a book… anything but just sit and have a cup of tea and not have to be involved in any other activity). And I’ve been able to (almost) stop worrying about doing/saying the wrong thing and causing an argument. Strangely, knowing that our relationship could be over by January has made me less afraid that it could end suddenly the minute I do something Jan doesn’t like. I’m sure a psychologist would be able to give me a really good explanation for that, but honestly I’d prefer not to go there. I’m just enjoying being happy while it lasts.

And a good time was had by all

I must apologise to those of you who have been awaiting my tea party report with bated breath (that would be all two of you then!). I meant to do this last Monday, but work and life and things got in the way and I just couldn’t find the time. But better late than never as they say!

So, a quick recap for those of you who’ve forgotten (or just don’t know) what I’m going on about.
My wonderful blogging friend Katy (whose blog you can find here) is raising money for The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, in memory of her friend Michelle’s baby boy Keelan. Katy is raising money by hosting tea parties… and having other people host tea parties for her. Could there be a better way to raise money than by eating cake?! Clearly there could not! Which is why I had to get in on the action and host my very own tea party.

I went for an afternoon tea type event. The entire German-speaking world seems convinced that we Brits drop everything at 5pm every day and sit down for a cup of tea and a scone. I have no idea where they get this from! I’m sure most of us would love this to be the case, but do any of you know anybody who actually does this? No? Thought not. Netherless, I decided to keep the cliche going and have people round for tea (and scones and cake and little traingualr sandwiches) at 5pm on 9th July.

I got up nice and early and started cutting teapot shapes out of colourful paper.

You can’t actually see from the picture, but the non-patterned shapes have tea quotes on them.
Having decorated the living room to my satisfaction I headed to the kitchen, where the carrot cake I had made the night before was waiting to be iced.

The Yorkshire Parkin I had baked the week before was still waiting in its tin. Amazingly we had both managed to avoid eating any of it – despite the fact the Parkin is my absolute all-time favourite cake. I love it even more than the richest and most deliciously gooey of brownies – and that’s saying something!

Yorkshire Parkin

I was secretly hoping people wouldn’t be too keen on it so there would be lots left for me, but (alas) it went down rather well. In fact, I saw one guy take three pieces. Success!
The donations tin was placed prominently next to a plate of melon (a contribution from a guest) and, to my surprise, instead of taking the opportunity to get rid of a few coins almost every guest put in a note! We ended up with 76 euros in the tin. Add to that a donation each from Jan and myself, plus the fiver someone who couldn’t make it gave me a few days later and I was able to transfer 95 pounds to Katy’s just giving page! Much more than I was expecting! And I received more compliments on my baking skills on that one day than I have in the entire rest of my life. Conclusion: The tea party was a resounding success!

Let’s all eat cake…

My amazingly wonderful blogging friend Katy is on a quest. A quest to raise money for a very good cause.
In January, Katy’s friend Michelle lost her baby boy, Keelan, to what was diagnosed as sudden infant death syndrome. Instead of dissolving into a little pool of grief (which is probably what I would done), Michelle chose to remember Keelan by raising money in aid of FSID – The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID). The original plan was to take part in Mile in Memory, walking a mile in memory of Keelan, which Michelle and Katy duly did. The day of the walk ended up expanding into a whole event, with a raffle, cakes for sale, a bouncy castle and general fun for all the family. Bteween them, they managed to raise an amazing £6000 for FSID! I think you’ll agree that’s quite an achievement.

Originally, the fundraising was to have ended there. Then they learned that the FSID has come up with a new fundraising plan. The charity is turning 40 this year and they are asking people to celebrate their anniversary (and raise money) by having tea parties. How could anyone resist the idea of having a good natter of a cuppa and a piece of cake and not even having to feel guilty about it because, of course, it’s all for charity! So of course, after not much debate, the two of them put their fundraising caps back on.
And that’s where I (and you) come in.

Michelle and Katy are going to be arranging tea parties in memory of Keelan, of course. But that’s not the big plan. The big plan is as follows: have other people host tea parties as well, in memory of Keelan and in aid of FSID. The more tea parties the better. They can be small tea parties or large tea parties. Virtual tea partiesm birthday tea parties, teddy bears’ picnics… anything goes. As long as the hosts believe it’s a tea party it will be accepted.

Naturally, I want to help too. I am, after all, in a perfect position on put the “international” into the events. And that’s where I need your help.

The Germans (and quite possibly all continental Europeans) have the idea of 5 o’clock tea firmly fixed in their heads. I don’t know why, but they’re utterly convinced that every British person drops whatever their doing at precisely 5pm every single day and goes off to have a cup of tea and a snack. No matter how often I inform them that I have never in my life gone out of my way to have a cup of tea and 5pm and can’t think of even one friend or acquaintence who has they remain utterly convinced that this stereotype is true. I’ve managed to get them to admit that it doesn’t always rain in the UK and I’m slowly convincing them that English food can actually be quite good, but the five-o’clock tea myth persists. No matter that nobody in the English-speaking world seems to have heard of it – they’ve always heard about it, therefore it must be true. So I’ve decided to embrace the stereotype. Why not? At least it’s a nice stereotype. So, I shall be offering my friends afternoon tea proper British style in memory of Keelan. Starting at 5pm, obviously.

And this is where I need your help! I want you to tell me what foods instantly spring to mind when I say the words “Afternoon tea”. The more traditionally English/British the better. I already have scones (both cheese and plain) on my list, and I even know of a source for clotted cream here in Germany! I’m also thinkin Cheddar cheese sandwiches – cut into little triangles for maximum posh Englishness – shortbread and Yorkshire Parkin (the latter shall be made using my Grandma’s recipe. What could be more English). But I need more! Hungry mouths to feed and all that. All contributions welcome, especially from those readers out there who are not British. What do you think is an absolute must at an English tea party? In this particular case stereotypes are welcome! (But only good ones, please. That’s what we’re trying to reinforce here).

By the way, you too can host a tea party in memory of Keelan. Check out The Dormouse’s Last Stand to find out how…

Bleurgh

Dear Throat,

Please do me a favour and stop hurting. And tell your friends the sneezes to stop lurking at the back of my nose waiting to come out as well. I don’t have time to be ill this week. I have deadlines you know. And we’re having a party to celebrate the boyfriend’s birthday on Saturday. There are going to be pancakes! I shall be most upset if you cause me to have to cancel pancakes! The party cannot be postponed as I have a seminar the following week.
I am now going to drink some Lemsip and get an incredibly early night. By the time I wake up in the morning I expect you to be at least almost gone, understood?

Yours, Beverley