Christmas is on its way…

Us mere mortals may believe that autumn has only just arrived, but the shops, as usual, are one step ahead. If you wanted pumpkins and squirrels, you should have gone shopping back in August. Now is the time for tinsel and glitter and all things festive.

Walking through the train station on my way back from work, I spotted a stand full of what I am forced to describe as Christmas tree “ornaments” for want of a better word. I’m used to plastic tat at Christmastime, of course – the UK isn’t exactly known for its tasteful decorations! But these things take it to a whole new level.

I had to take the photos surreptitously using my phone, so the quality isn’t the best, but even the world’s most amazing camera couldn’t have done much to make these things looks good…

Christmas 1

Christmas 2

Needless to state, there shall be no glittery, bowler-hatted crocodiles or giraffes(?) in tutus gracing my living room this Christmas!

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What season is this again?

It’s hard to believe that a mere two weeks ago the temperatures were still in the high 20s (degrees celsius, that is). The day we went to the wine festival was the last nice day we had here. Since then, it’s been raining… and cold. So cold, in fact, that last night I took my trusty blanket (the one that got me through the first few days of post-wisdom tooth removal pain) to bed with me. Curled up under both that and the quilt I was actually able to warm up enough to sleep!

This is what autumn is supposed to look like...
This is what autumn is supposed to look like…

I know it’s September, and therefore an autumn month (although not officially until Sunday), but is a temperature drop of more than 10 degrees really necessary? Right now, it feels more like the beginning of winter than the first weeks of autumn (which makes me wonder how I’m going to cope when winter actually does arrive!). Early autumn is supposed to be about brightly coloured trees and piles of crunchy brown leaves that are just perfect for stomping on. How are the leaves supposed to get crunchy when they’re wet all the time? Temperatures are supposed to be mild… well, cool mornings and nights are to be expected, but during the day I should be able to get by with just a cardigan or light-weight jacket. A cardigan, my raincoat and a scarf is not autumn attire! And on the way home from work last night, I even found myself wishing I had some gloves with me. I cannot remember a September this cold in my entire six years in Germany! Here’s hoping the sun comes back for at least a day or two before winter kicks in!

And on an entirely unrelated note… I managed to sleep without a painkiller last night and swallowing seems to be much easier today. My stitches come out tomorrow, so hopefully it will be all up hill from there!

Alright winter, you’ve made your point!

I am sooo sick of being cold!

09 04 03
Photo credit: mattjiggins

In English (or at least in the UK) we have a saying – more like a proverb – “April showers bring May flowers”. The German equivalent is “Der April macht was er will” – April does what it wants (April is pronounced A-prill with an A like in the word “alphabet” and to rhyme with will). I’m starting to think the German version is more accurate. This April certainly has no intention of sticking with one kind of weather! We’ve had dark, threatening clouds, we’ve had fog, we’ve had lots and lots of rain, we’ve had a tiny bit of sun peering from behind the clouds (mostly while I was at work), but what we’ve mostly had is cold. Today the temperature got up to a whole 10°C (Google tells me that’s 50°F, non-European readers), but mostly it’s been somewhere between 5 and 8°C. I’ve had to get my winter coat back out and have been wearing a scarf in bed (oh… I forgot to mention that I’ve had my hair cut and my neck now feels incredibly exposed…. and cold!). Did someone forget to tell the universe that it’s actually spring now? You had your chance winter… April is not your month!

On a brighter note, my team came first in the slightly-delayed-due-to-Easter pub quiz last week. The next one is on 8 May when we shall have a title to defend! We then went out on Friday night to watch our quiz master’s band perform, and got in free in exchange for doing the door for them (taking people’s money) as the person that usually does it couldn’t this time. All together now: “It’s not what you know…”.

Also, Newcastle United are currently fourth in the Premier League and it’s looking more and more likely that they’ll be coming to Europe next year, either in the Europa League (which I only recently found out is what they’re calling the UEFA Cup these days) or the Champions League. Jan and I are actually kind of hoping they end up with an Europa League place, that Stuttgart get one too, and that they happen to play each other. In Stuttgart. So we can travel to Karlsruhe’s greatest rivals, wearing Newcastle shirts and cheer on my football team. Unlikely, but the fact that I can even dream about it shows how far the Toon has come this season.

Life is good. But it would be sooo much better with a bit of spring sunshine!

Autumn in the air

Standing at the tram stop this morning, I was hit by a smell that I can only describe as “Autumn”. Unfortunately it didn’t last long, as after a few minutes the only other person at the stop lit up a cigarette and my nostrils were filled with smoke instead, but not before I managed to take a deep breath of that wonderful aumtumny fragrance. The sun was just barely up and it was still pretty cold outside, with that crisp clean feel to the air that makes smells (and sounds) spread for miles. And the scent of autumn was definitely in the air. It’s that slightly dusty smell of fallen leaves, mixed with the scent of conkers. I couldn’t see any conkers but I could certainly smell them! It’s the smell of nature, but not the nature smell you get in spring. Spring smells new and fresh and green (of course green has a smell!). The nature of autumn is more mature. This is nature that’s seen things. It’s mature nature (interesting that those two words don’t rhyme). Spring smells invigorating, summer is sweet and warm, but autumn has a musty, down-to-earth smell. I love the first few weeks of autumn weather, when the days are still warm (but the sun isn’t beaming down, doing its best to give me sunstroke) and the evenings are still light. This part of autumn never lasts for long though, so I’d better enjoy it while I can!

The changing of the seasons

I actually feel kind of bad that I didn’t have time to post yesterday. It meant the whingey post about my boyfriend not coming over ended up still being there even after it wasn’t true any more. Choir practice was cancelled this week so he did end up coming round last night after all. And, miracle of all miracles, I actually managed to sleep. There’s no way this can be coincidence!

So, up until this week I had managed to successfully ignore the signs that autumn is almost upon us. Partly because it was still August, and I refuse to let my birthday month be in any season other than summer, but also because I wasn’t having to get up so early (I guess there are advantages to unemployment after all) so by the time I was awake the sun was as well. I can’t avoid it any longer though. So far I haven’t had to leave the house in the dark yet but it is necessary to turn on the light when I get up for work.
How can it be this close to the end of the year already? I’m not ready to dig out my winter clothes yet!

Summer isn’t over til I say it is!

It’s pretty difficult to be in denial about something when the evidence is right there, staring you in the face.

The last two mornings when I left the house to go to work I couldn’t help but notice millions and millions of dead brown leaves lying all over the carpark. I’m actually wondering whether there ever weren‘t any leaves lying around. I’m almost sure there aren’t enough months between autumn and summer for them to disappear completely. But there are definitely more now. Lots more. So many more that I can no longer fail to notice their presence, which makes me want to put my hands over my ears, shut my eyes and start singing “lalala”. I don’t want the floor to be covered with dead brown leaves, because that means autumn must be on its way. But it’s not allowed to be autumn yet. In the world of Bev, August is a summer month. September is when autumn starts. My birthday is not allowed to be in the same month that autumn starts. So there!

I’m off now… to think nice, warm summery thoughts!

Resisting the temptation to shop

It’s that time of year again. The time of the Sommerschlussverkauf, or translated into English “the summer’s end sale”. Yes, the shops are already selling off their summer clothing to make room the autumn range. As far as I’m concerned we are currently in the middle of summer. It’s July. July is summer. August is also summer. Therefore we are nowhere near summer’s end, but the shops it seems are in some kind of twighlight zone where it’s autumn already. Not really surprising… they also seem to think October is the right time to start selling advent calendars.

Usually I love sales. The summer’s end sale… the winter’s end sale… the random middle of the season let’s-get-rid-of-some-stock sale… fantastic the lot of them. But for the past year the word “sale” has been like a new and unique form of torture for me. I am a self-confessed shopaholic. I like to buy things. It’s fun, it cheers me up and I like stuff. Mainly I like to buy clothes and books. Right now I desperately need shoes. But for almost a year now I’ve been unable to do any shopping. I earn just about enough to pay the rent and eat. If I’m really careful I can save up enough to buy the occasional birthday present, but shopping for things for myself just isn’t possible. The last time I went on a proper shopping spree was last July. That’s a whole year ago! Since then I’ve resisted temptation, despite that fact that I work right in the middle of Karlsruhe’s main shopping street, in an office that’s next door to a shoe shop! But now it’s all getting to be a bit too much. I want to go shopping. I want to buy summer clothes before there aren’t any more left. I’m sick of baking to death in long sleeves and fur-lined boots while temperatures soar to 29, 30, 35 degrees. I’m sick of half of my socks having holes in and not being able to afford to replace them. I’m sick of walking past the shops every single day on my way home from work and seeing stuff in the windows that I really, really want to buy.

Roll on September. Hopefully by then I’ll have enough money to at least buy a pair of sandals… just in time for the cold and rain to start again.