Garmisch-Patenkirchen

The party Jan and I were supposed to go to in Switzerland fell through, so we spontaneously decided to go the other way instead. Jan managed to book a hotel room for the night in Garmisch-Patenkirchen in Bavaria, so after bidding farewell to my friends and their baby, that’s where we headed. We decided to take the slightly longer but more scenic route through Austria, rather than heading straight back to Germany. Here are some photos I took along the way. The first few were taken near St. Anton am Arlberg while the others are the view from the “Zugspitzblick” (Zugspitz view) carpark on the Fernpass in Austria. The flattish looking mountain is the Zugspitz and the lake is called the Blindsee. And as usual, I prove I am incapable of smiling like a normal human being on photos… I have no idea what that expression on my face is!

By the time we arrived in Garmisch-Patenkirchen, it was dark, but after driving for so long we wanted to stretch our legs so, after checking in, we went for a night time walk. The part of town we were staying in was Patenkirchen – it’s separated from the Garmisch area of town by a main road, which the lady at the hotel’s reception later jokingly referred to as “the border”.

The hotel also had a restaurant, so while checking in we had asked for a table to be reserved for us. Neither of us was particularly hungry, so we chose something we though would be small… thought being the operative word her! I chose Hackbraten (a kind of meatloaf) and the slice I got covered half the plate! It was served with asparagus in Hollandaise sauce and some very buttery mashed potatoes. Basically fat, fat and more fat… and a huge chunk of meat! It was tasty though! The restaurant was busy, so later we were joined at our table by a woman and her daughter from Leipzig. We got talking and had a very enjoyable evening, before heading up to our room for a relatively early night. The furnishings in the room were very “traditional”… just check out this bed:

bed

The next day (Sunday), we awoke to rain. The plan was to go up the Zugspitz, so we had breakfast, checked out and drove over to the mountain train station. Unfortunately, all the webcam views from the top of the mountain showed that there was no view whatsoever up there! Deciding going up anyway would be a waste of money (a round trip costs 50 euros per person!!), we went for a walk instead, this time in the Garmisch part of town. We were aiming for the Kurhaus, which had a Michael Ende (German children’s author) exhibition, but on arrival it turned out to be closed. It was due to open at 11 a.m., but that would have meant waiting an hour, so we headed back to the car and moved on. Before leaving town, we stopped off at the Garmisch-Patenkirchen olympic ski jump… it’s so famous that even I had heard of it!

It was still raining and showing no signs of clearing, so we jumped back in the car and just starting driving. Initially, we had no goal in mind, but then we noticed we were on the Romatische Straße (Romantic Road) and I remembered that Schloss Neuschwanstein is on that route, so that’s where we decided to go…
I’m not going to tell you about that in this post, though. For that, you’ll have to wait! (Yes, I know how to drag out a weekend trip… 😉 )

Neighbourhoods Around the World – Karlsruhe

Show me your neighbourhood around the world

A slightly different blog post today. I’m taking part in a series hosted by Annabelle over at The Piri-Piri Lexicon – Show me your neighbourhood around the world. The idea of this series is to take a little tour of other people’s neighbourhoods around the world through the lense of their camera. Every two days between now and the end of November, a different blogger will showcase their own nighbourhood and town. You can see who else is taking part and where else the tour is taking us by clicking on the link I included earlier. But for now, let’s have a look at Karlsruhe. I live in the Südstadt (literally “south city”) district.

First of all, I should tell you the rules:
– All photos must be of the town/neighbourhood you live in or are well acquainted with.
– All must have been taken by you.
– Please publish a maximum of 12 photos.
– 6 photos that MUST be included:

  1. a playground / play area
  2. a local mode of transport
  3. a typical house/building
  4. a street nearby
  5. a school, nursery or other education facility
  6. a market, supermarket or other shopping outlet

– (Up to) 6 other photos are up to you. Think typical and local.

I’ll start with my six mandatory photos. Most of them were taken in the rain purely because the last time it wasn’t raining, or at least cloudy, in Karlsruhe, I was at work in another city and therefore unable to take photos!

A playground:

This is one of three small play areas that are all in a row on the so-called “Grünstreifen” (green strip).

Play area

One advantage of taking photos of playgrounds in the rain is that you don’t have to worry about disturbing any children! Also, I’m pretty sure those little red elephants are mandatory for all German play areas… they’re everywhere 😉

A local mode of transport:

S-Bahn

The bright yellow trams and S-Bahns are a familiar sight in Karlsruhe. Trams are the smaller ones that serve the city and its suburbs, while the larger S-Bahns are capable of travelling on both tram tracks and the proper Deutsche Bahn train tracks and can thus travel to further away places, like Baden Baden or Germersheim.

A typical house/building:

There are probably single-family houses somewhere on the outskirts of Karlsruhe (like Waldstadt maybe?) but if, like me, you live in a fairly central part of town, you will definitely be housed in a flat (apartment).

Building

I chose the above building for my photo on the advice of Jan, who tells me that particular pattern of bricks is typical for the area. Lots of flats are located in buildings that have something else on the ground floor – in this case, it’s a bar.

A street nearby:

I didn’t want to post a photo of my own street on here (I have photos of myself… I’d prefer not to have them associated with an address, however vague) but here’s one in my neighbourhood. This is pretty typical for the part of Karlsruhe I live in:

Karlsruhe street

A school, nursery or other education facility:

Not being a parent or having particularly close contact with anyone who has children of school age, I have no idea about any of the schools in Karlsruhe. I know of three schools within 2-3 streets of where I live, and I chose to take a photo of this one purely because the building it’s in looks nice:

Karlsruhe school

Here’s another photo, from a different angle:

Karlsruhe school 2

Looking at the signs outside, I gathered that this building houses a Grundschule (primary school) and Realschule (secondary school for pupils who are seen as not too bright and therefore not expected to go on to study. The other secondary school forms are Gymnasium, which prepares the most intelligent kids for university, and Hauptschule for those children who are considered suiltable for only the most menial of tasks, such as collecting rubbish or factory work. Some areas also have Gesamtschulen, i.e. comprehensives, which are supposed to be for everyone, but in reality parents of the most intelligent children still send them to Gymansium, leaving the Gesamtschulen full of pupils who would otherwise have gone to Realschule or Hauptschule).

A market, supermarket or other shopping outlet:

I wasn’t sure about the policies on taking photos inside supermarkets, so I took the following very surreptitously using the camera on my phone, hence the terrible quality!

The above photos were taken at Scheck-In Center, one of the larger supermarkets in Karlsruhe. It’s actually pretty close to where I live, but I rarely go there because the way it’s located in relation to my flat means it’s so much more convenient for me to go into town. But the other day I arrived at the train station to find that the next tram going anywhere useful would take me to Scheck-In, so off I went. Apart from selling all the usual goods you need for everyday life, Scheck-In Center is one of the places to go for anything you can’t find at “normal” supermarkets – such as vanilla extract or Cheddar cheese.

And now for some additional photos to hopefully give you an idea of what life is like in Karlsruhe.

Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof

Unless you come by car, the above “Hauptbahnhof” (main train station) is the first thing you will see in Karlsruhe. And if you’e a commuter, like me, you’ll feel like you spend half your life there! The original train station was further North (for those who know Karlsruhe, it was on Kriegstraße, between Ettlinger Tor and Mendelsohnplatz), but in 1902, the Baden parliament decided to build a new one to make room for the expanding city. Construction began on the current Hauptbahnhof in 1910 and it opened in the night between 22 and 23 October 1931, meaning it will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in just over a week’s time!

Notice all the bikes in the picture as well. I could have used a picture of a bike for my local mode of transport… people in Karlsruhe loooooove to cycle!

As soon as the sun comes out even a little bit, the grounds of Karlsruhe’s castle are the place to be! Everyone and anyone can be found there – people walking their dogs, teenage girls sun bathing, students drinking beer, people playing with frisbees, joggers, parents running around after children….

A rather wet Schlosspark
A rather wet Schlosspark

The only people around when I took the above photo were either walking their dogs or just passing through on their way to somewhere else – although I did spot one dedicated jogger! You certainly wouldn’t catch me jogging in such weather (although I apparantly have no problem going out in the rain for the sake of my blog… I suppose it’s a matter of opinion who is more crazy).

It might be raining, but I still need my walk!
It might be raining, but I still need my walk!

Karlsruhe pyramid

The pyramid on Marktplatz (Market Square) is one of Karlsruhe’s main landmarks. I bet there are very few residents who have never uttered or written the phrase “I’ll meet you at the pyramid”…

Nymphengarten Karlsruhe

For a city of 297,488 (in 2011, according to Wikipedia), Karlsruhe is pretty green. There are trees, flowers and small parks all over the place. The picture above was taken in the Nymphengarten, a small green space behind the Naturkundemuseum (Natural History Museum).

That’s thirteen photos, which is technically one too many (I thought I’d compensate for the terrible quality of the supermarket photos by including two images!), so it’s time for me to stop now. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out the rest of the series? The next stop on the world tour is Japan. Links to previous entries and a schedule for the rest of the series can be found on The Piri-Piri Lexicon.

The Liebster Award and some random ramblings

Charlotte from Sherbet and Sparkles recently gave me the Liebster Award (thank you Charlotte!) and I thought I would pass it on before I completely forget about it.liebsterblogawardA while ago, I was given a different Liebster Award, which involved a lot more work. This one is pretty simple – display the award on your blog and choose five people to pass it on to. I can do that!

The word Liebster is German, by the way, and means something like “dearest”. How nice!
Here are my nominations:

PinkleaOne of the first blogs I started reading when I signed up for WordPress oh-so-many years ago. She’s a French immersion teacher from Canada and often has funny stories to tell about the kids, as well as life in general.

Expat Eye on LatviaI’m sure you can guess what her blog is about from the name. However, what the name doesn’t tell you is that she’s very, very funny!

From Casinos to CastlesDeanna is an American expat in Germany. She writes about the ups and downs of life (and parenthood) in a foreign land.

Is That You Darling?Jane describes herself as a “UK lifestyle blogger” On is That You Darling, you you will find a bit of everything: Film reviews, recipes and photos from day trips to London, to name just a few.

The Pink RachaelWe share so many of the same opinions, it almost scares me! Rachael recently moved from being an expat in Spain to living back in England, and took a break from blogging during the big move, but she’s back now with more tales to tell.

Sara in Le Petit VillageAn American in France. Her posts range from amusing to insightful and her photos of France are gorgeous!

Now some random ramblings on life in general.

  1. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to being able to exercise again! When I went back to work after the dreaded wisdom teeth operation, even walking fast caused a jolt of pain to go through the holes with every step I took. Things have improved since then, thank goodness, but I still don’t feel up to say star jumps.
  2. Speaking of wisdom teeth, I can now chew normally again on one side of my mouth. The left-hand side is still a bit sensitive, but the operation was also more complicated on that side so I’m not too surprised.
  3. Because dealing with the after effects of having my wisdom teeth out clearly isn’t enough, I woke up with a sore throat this morning. Thanks a lot, universe!
  4. It’s raining again. I sincerely hope it’s just a one off and not the start of another three weeks of sogginess! There’s been more than enough rain in Germany this year if you ask me.
  5. Poppadoms
    YUM!! (Photo credit: 10b travelling)

    My godson took is first step the other day, at just over one year and one week old. Clever boy! (Obviously I was not there to see this – I read it on Facebook).

  6. Last night, somebody found my blog by searching for craving poppadoms. Now I want poppadoms! And a decent curry to go with them. I’m so easily influenced… (I also still want Wotsits after yesterday’s search terms post. Always the things I can’t get here. *Sigh*)

And that’s all I have to say for now. Stay tuned for this week’s Look Up, Look Down entry…

It wasn’t supposed to be an actual mud pie…

Yesterday, I fulfilled my “provide sweet treats for your colleagues after you’ve had a birthday” obligation and made Mississippi Mud Pie.

Crushing 600g of chocolate biscuits took a while!

Biscuit crushing in progress
Biscuit crushing in progress
Crushed biscuits and melted butter
Crushed biscuits and melted butter

These marshmallows came with a warning to only eat one of them at a time!

Not sure I'd like to meet the person who could eat more than one of these at a time!
Not sure I’d like to meet the person who could eat more than one of these at a time!

The last time I made this, I was still young enough to require supervision in the kitchen and I’d forgotten how annoying marshmallows are to melt!

Melting the giant marshmallows
Melting the giant marshmallows

Yes of course they stuck to the bottom and started to crystallise because I had the audacity to leave them to their own devices for 30 seconds while I sorted out another ingredient…

My dad’s instructions called for one pint of double cream (this dish is not for people on a diet!). My jug, being German, only does millilitres, so I measured the cream in a pint glass:

A pint of cream
A pint of cream

Finally I was ready to start mixing all the ingredients together.

Melted marshmallows and melted chocolate
Melted marshmallows and melted chocolate

Once everything was well combined, I poured it onto the biscuit-crumb base (which had been hardening in the fridge while I made the topping) and the whole thing went back into the fridge while I headed to the train station to buy something to decorate the pie with. I’d forgotten I needed decorations the day before and, being a Sunday, all the supermarkets were closed. At home, we always used Milky Bar Buttons for decoration, but no such thing is available here. Also, being a crappy train station shop, the selection of decorative streets was rather limited, so I ended up going with M&Ms then adding some sugar confetti that I still had in the cupboard. The result wasn’t too bad:

Colourful Mississippi Mud Pie
Colourful Mississippi Mud Pie

Now all that remained was to let the pie set overnight then bring it into work this morning and hope my colleagues didn’t object to finding the occasional piece of caramelised marshmallow in their pie… oh so I thought. I hadn’t reckoned with the torrential rain when I got off the train this morning… or the little holes where the handles of my cake carrier met the rest of the plastic…

My colleagues were willing to give the cake a try anyway, and pronounced it good… despite the fact that the M&Ms had been completely washed clean of colour! Poor cake, as Jan said when I texted him about it…

Ireland, days 8-9: Exploring Kerry and hiking in the rain

Although our apartment was in Killarney, we didn’t really see much of the town (other than Tesco and the route to the Tourist Information office), so I won’t be giving any information about it in this post. Here’s what we did instead of exploring Killarney town…

On Saturday we were up surprisingly early considering how late we’d gone to bed the night before!
After a breakfast of porridge (made by the Scottish member of the group – of course!) it was off for a drive around the Dingle Peninsular.

The first place we stopped was Inch Beach, but not for long because OMG was it windy!! I seriously thought I might be blown away! There were loads of surfers out though – perfect weather for them!

Inch Beach
Inch Beach

Next we drove through the town of Dingle, which looked really pretty (but touristy). We didn’t stop though, so I have zero photos. Instead, we drove round to the other side of the bay and up the hill. The plan was to go to Esk Tower for a view over Dingle Bay, but the farmer whose field you had to walk to to reach the tower was charging people €3 for the privilege! Errr, I think not!! So no Esk Tower. I did point my camera between two houses on the hill we were parked on, so here’s a view of Dingle Bay from above with the town of Dingle in the background:

That *should* be Dingle across the water
That *should* be Dingle across the water

We then stopped at another beach – I’m not sure what it was called – and enjoyed the fact that the sun had come out and the wind had died down.

Look . blue sky!!
Look . blue sky!!
View from on the beach
View from on the beach

We stopped one more time when the Blasket Islands came into view and took some photos of them and the water, as well as a seagull that seemed more than happy to pose for our cameras.

Some of the Blasket Islands
Some of the Blasket Islands
Our friend the seagull
Our friend the seagull

Then it was on to Dunquin – the westernmost town in Ireland! We were searching for Kruger’s Inn, where CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) was founded. My dad is a huge fan of real ales and a member of CAMRA, so I wanted to get a photo for him. We also planned to eat lunch there.

Disappointing pub...
Disappointing pub…

Sadly, what we found at Kruger’s was disappointing. Despite all the positive reviews and claims that it’s a “popular bar”, there were precisely 3 people inside, all hovering at the corner of the bar. One appeared to be working while the other two had come in to chat with her. When we asked about food, we were told they do not serve food (despite there being a blackboard in the middle of the room with “soup, sandwiches, tea, coffee” written on it!!) and offered Guinness instead. Err… what?! My guess is it’s been sold and the new owners have changed things… So we headed back to a café/pottery we had driven past on the way to Kruger’s. My chicken pie was very nice, although not worth the price, but then what you were really paying for at that place was the view:

View from the cafe window
View from the cafe window

After lunch, the general consensus was that, although the Dingle peninsular seemed nice enough, we should head back and take in the (apparantly) even more beautiful Ring of Kerry. So we drove back the way we had came until we reached Killorglin then followed the ring from there. Presumable because it was evening by then, the ring wasn’t as crowded as I’d been told and we only spotted two coaches the whole way round!

The first part of the Ring of Kerry wasn’t all that spectacular. We noticed a couple of nice views, but with no places nearby to stop and admire, and drove through a few cute looking villages but for the most part all there was to see was hedge. We made our first stop on the Ring in Waterville, where we took some photos of the beach.

The beach at Waterville
The beach at Waterville
Waterville
Waterville

Waterville’s claim to fame is that Charlie Chaplin liked to take holidays there. The village now hosts as Chaplin festival every year and there’s a statue of him there too – we drove past the statue but didn’t stop for a photo.

We then drove on, passing through the village of Sneem (I love the name!), which is supposed to be very pretty. All I saw of it from the car window was this:

Sneem
Sneem

Our next stop was at Moll’s Gap, which is between Kenmare and Killarney. Apparantly the panoramic stop (where we parked) and its shop are visited by thousands of tourists each year. Well, by the time we got there the shop had already closed and the only creatures we met were some sheep, who we proceeded to have a Meeeaahhh off with (that’s my attempt to spell the sound a sheep makes – because these ones were not saying baaa by any stretch of the imagination! It definitely started with an m and had an eh sound in it!). Oh, and I took some photos too:

At Moll's Gap
At Moll’s Gap

After Moll’s Gap, we moved on to Ladies’ View. We had been looking forward to this, having heard that it’s possibly the most stunning view on the whole Ring of Kerry, and it did not disappoint. We arrived just in time for sunset, and even my crappy camera managed to get some decent shots (still nothing like as wonderful as the real thing though!)

Ladies View
Ladies View
Same again...
Same again…
Looking the other way - no sun in this direction!
Looking the other way – no sun in this direction!

Less fun was the part where we were eaten alive by midgies. I’ve seriously never seen so many of the evil beasts in one place! At one point, I put out my hand and saw literally about 10 little black insects sitting on it!! Eeew, eew, eew! Then, while posing for a photo, one went up my nose. Aarghh! And just to make things more annoying, the boys were barely pestered at all while us girls were literally covered in evil midge-beasts! Two German girls who arrived shortly after us were waving their hands about and screaming as well though, so I’m clearly not crazy… the evil beasts from insect hell were actually there!

It was laaaate by this time, so we decided to skip Torc Waterfall, although I had heard it’s amazing, and head to Tesco instead, where we purchased food for that night and also the next day. Back at the apartment, I made a sauce using the left-over chicken, courgette and tinned tomatoes and we served it with pasta. We ate late again, but at least this time the food was ready before midnight! Then we spent some time planning the next day (hiking day!) and trying to find a tour that didn’t make us book it 24 hours in advance, which obviously was no longer possible…

Day 9, Sunday, had been set aside for hiking. We were getting picked up at Killarney Tourist Information office at 10 a.m. and needed to walk there, so an early start was required! Jan made sandwiches for the hike while the two girls  made breakfast, which consisted of porridge, potato farls (an Irish version of potato scones) and scrambled eggs. Then we were on our way! The mini bus was late picking us up, which resulted in the nice lady at the tourist office phoning the company for us, but eventually a mini bus arrived (with only one other person in it) and we were off! On our way through Killarney, the driver told us a little about the things we were passing (not that I remember anything), then we were dropped off at Kate Kearney’s cottage, which marks the entrance to the Gap of Dunloe.

Typically, the day we had set aside for hiking was the day it rained literally ALL day!! The Gap of Dunloe was still pretty impressive, but I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I would have if I hadn’t been busy getting drenched! Also, my hiking trouser are water resistant but not waterproof, so after about my mile 3 of 7 my legs were soaked! As were my feet… stupid hiking shoes started leaking! Nevertheless, it was a nice enough hike and I felt very virtuous getting my exercise despite the rain 😉

In the Gap of Dunloe
In the Gap of Dunloe
"Yes, up there is where you're walking to next..."
“Yes, up there is where you’re walking to next…”
I LOVED this ruined house we walked past in the Gap
I LOVED this ruined house we walked past in the Gap
Nearly there! This was about 2 minutes away from Lord Brandon's Cottage.
Nearly there! This was about 2 minutes away from Lord Brandon’s Cottage.

It doesn’t look nearly as wet in the photos as it did in real life!
Our hike took us to Lord Brandon’s Cottage, where we all had a nice hot drink while we waited for a our boat. Yes, you did read that correctly! The tour we had booked involved being brought to the Gap by bus, hiking or pony trapping our way down to Lord Brandon’s Cottage then being taken by boat from there to Ross Castle, where the bus would be waiting to take us home. I barely took any photos on the boat ride because it was freezing and I was terrified of dropping my camera in the water, but here’s one I took just to prove we actually were on a boat!

On the boat
On the boat

The driver/guide stopped occasionally to tell us interesting little facts. As we passed under the Wishing Bridge, he said that any ladies wanting to get married should make a wish as we went under it, and he guaranteed he would see them again within a year with a ring on their finger. One woman on the boat then asked if he could go back so she could have another go! Wish granter or not, the bridge looks very cool!

The Wishing Bridge
The Wishing Bridge

We also passed by the Ladies’ View – where we had been the night before – this time from below. An hour later, we were at Ross Castle where our nice warm bus was waiting for us! And instead of taking us back to the Tourist Information office, the driver asked us where we were staying and took us right to our front door! More Irish friendliness (or maybe he just felt sorry for us in our drowned-rat state?). Next on the agenda was warm showers, dry clothes and hot tea all round! Then we took the opportunity to do some laundry before  spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Jan and I even went for a nap (which turned into a longer sleep when he forgot to actually set the alarm!). We were woken up at around 8 p.m. with the information that food was nearly ready – steak and gravy pie with the remaining potatoes. Yum yum!! Some people had thought about maybe going to the Torc Waterfall or to have a look at Killarney itself that evening, but it was still raining so we decided against it and had a quiet evening in. There was packing to be done anyway, ready to move on to our final stop the next day…

Ross Castle... and there's our bus driver waiting for us!
Ross Castle… and there’s our bus driver waiting for us!

Cross stitch woes and Friday letters

Hiiii!

Posting on my blog has been a bit sporadic recently. I do apologise! Cross stitching like mad was the main culprit. I really needed to get the finished article in the postbox before the first collection this morning to be in with even a slight chance of it being delivered on time (the wedding is tomorrow), but despite staying up until midnight last night, this is as far as I got:

Unfinished...
Unfinished…

I will still complete it tonight and get it sent off first thing tomorrow morning, but the earliest it will arrive now is Monday. Most disappointing! I suppose more cross stitching and less going to the Irish Pub for the Champion’s League final would have helped…

Anyway… it is Friday again, and that means it’s time for some letters.

Snail Mail Terminal
Snail Mail Terminal (Photo credit: Vicki & Chuck Rogers)

Dear Dublin. This time next Friday I will be boarding a flight to you! So exciting.

Dear weather Gods. I very much appreciate you sending the sun out to play yesterday for the fourth (and final) holiday of May, but was it really necessary to follow up be chucking buckets of rain at us today? Sitting at work with wet legs was not fun!

Dear waist measurement. Why aren’t you getting any smaller? I know I haven’t exercised quite as much as I was intending to, but it’s definitely an improvement on before!

Dear boyfriend. Thank you for taking pity on me on Monday (when I ended up working for an extra hour and  half after arriving home) and suggesting we order pizza so I wouldn’t have to cook. Love you.

Dear self. Pizza (and brownies and other treats) are probably the explanation for the waist measurement thing. Just saying….

OK, that’s all. I need to go and have a cup of tea then decide what on Earth I’m going to cook tonight. Happy weekend folks!

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Fridaaaay! (letters)

It’s Friday again (hurray!!), and we all know what that means…

snail mailDear rain. Apart from last Saturday, I can’t remember the last time you stayed away for more than a few hours. Enough is enough, ok? Go to the Sahara or something… they could probably use you there!

Dear sore throat. And you can go away as well! I have better things to do than be ill.

Dear Ireland. See you in two weeks!

Dear work. This weeks translations have been challenging to say the least! Some slightly nicer texts next week would be a good way to finish off the month!

Dear tea. I am British, therefore I always love you, but this week you have truly been my saviour. Keep on being awesome!

Dear readers. I’m nearly finished with the cross stitch that’s been keeping me from you, so hopefully I’ll be able to return to more regular blogging next week. In the meantime, have a fabulous weekend!
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Always take the weather with you?

brainstorm
brainstorm (Photo credit: Graela)

Yesterday afternoon, while I was at work, the sky suddenly went incredibly dark. The next minute, the heavens opened – I’m talking torrential downpour! Then the thunder and lighting started. Hail came next, followed by snow; proper big flakes that actually stuck. All the while it was still thundering. Then the storm stopped, as quickly as it had come. The sun briefly poked out from behind the clouds and all the snow melted.

Around eight hours later, I was in Karlsruhe at the pub quiz when it started thundering. Within seconds, it went from drizzling a little to full on torrential rain. This was followed by snow (I’m not sure about hail). By the time the quiz ended and we went home, the rain had stopped, it had warmed up considerably and most of the snow had been washed away (although there was still some on the cars).

Apparantly the weather followed me home from work yesterday. Do you think maybe labelling the image I put on my last Friday letters post “All the weather” was tempting fate?

Formula 1

Somebody found my blog the other day by googling “Housework fairy Stella”. Who knew she had a name? Or maybe it isn’t a name… perhaps there’s some connection to the beverage producer. Lager, Cidre (it’s NOT cider… apparantly) and housework fairies. The possibilities are endless! But anyway… now to return to today’s scheduled programming…

So, let us go back in time to the weekend of 20-22 July 2012. We had tickets for the Formula 1 weekend at the Hockenheim Ring. Not because I’m a particular fan of fast cars driving around in circles (ok, funny shaped circles then), but because it turne out to be a good way to get my sister to actually visit me! We decided not to go on the Friday – even Ms. hardcore Formula 1 fan herself (the sister) didn’t think there was a huge amount of point in watching the practice – but we decided to go along on the Saturday, watch the qualifying, check out our seats and find out what (if anything) you were allowed to take in with you. We took a bottle of water and made sandwiches and it was no problem whatsoever. Suck on THAT football stadiums who refust to let me bring in my bottle of tap water, but also refuse to sell me any that isn’t carbonated. Yuk!

First impression of Formula 1: It is LOUD!! If you ever find yourself attending a race, take their warnings about ear protection seriously! We were very glad of ours. There was actually a running commentary being played via the loudspekaers the entire time we were at the qualiying, but we didn’t figure that out until the break between rounds one and two. All you can hear is Vrrrroooooooom, Vrrooooooooom, Vvvrrrrrrroomm… and that’s with earplugs in! It was also incredibly difficult to follow what was actually going on. Well, for Jan and I especially seeing as we didn’t even know who was who. Although I was aware that Sebastian Vettel was driving one of the cars with a Red Bullo logo on the side… because you can’t live in Germany and not know that Vettel drives for Red Bull!! I have to admit though, I had no idea who Schumacher was driving for… luckily my sister’s official programme was able to help with that. The atmospher was great though, and a good time was had by all (despite a good soaking about halfway through!).

The next day we went back again… much earlier this time! For the qualifying we had left the house at about 10:30 a.m. For the actual race we were out of here by 9! And before that there were four people to get breakfasted and showered. It was an early start! This time we took some cans of beer with us – there were signs all over saying no glass bottles, and although nobody was actually checking we decided not to take advantage of their leniency (I just had to look up the spelling of that and it still seems weird to me!). Let me tell you, finding cans of beer in Germany is not that easy! REAL had a choice of about 5 different types! This time we knew exactly where to go for our seats and were settled fairly quickly. Oh, and one interesting thing: this is the only event I’ve ever been to where there was a queue for the men’s toilets! Us girlies were able to walk straight in. It shouldn’t be surprising really considering what sport we were there to watch, but somehow it still was. I was able to follow things a little better than the day before (would still have been completely lost without the screens though.. and even my sister got confused at one point!) and knowing which cars to look out for meant I was able to at least try to get photos of specific drivers. I was aiming for at least one each of Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schuhmacher, maybe one of of Nico Rosberg (since he’s German too and unfortunately overlooked due to being on a team with the way more famous Schumi) and also a couple of the Vodafone McClaren Mercedes drivers for my sister, who loves Hamiltobn for his driving skills but wants to marry Button – apparantly. All in all it was quite an interesting experience, although not one I necessarily need to repeat (especially not at that price!!).

Here are a few of the photos I managed to get.

Qualifying 1 (you can tell it’s the first qualifying cos it hasn’t started raining yet!)
NOW the rain has started!
Race day! – The drivers greet the crowd
Caterham Formula 1 Team of Malaysia

Vettel! The Hockenheim Ring is his home track.
Lewis Hamilton. He actually did pretty badly on the day (failed to finish, in fact), but I thought it would be nice to end with an English driver and I gave you a photo of Button in a previous post.