Off to the motherland!


I’m off work this week, which theoretically gives me lots of time to blog but unfortunately doesn’t help with my lack of inspiration. Instead, I’ve spent most of the last 2 days cleaning and sorting out ready for us flying to England tomorrow. Does anyone else go in to major clean-all-the-things mode before a trip? The place must be tidy before we go away even though it’s going to be empty during that time. So things have gone to the recycling point, laundry has been washed, our bedding has been changed, I have hoovered and scrubbed and washed dishes. I was also naughty today and went shopping. I bought shoes, which is okay because I needed some for the wedding we’re going to on Saturday, but I also bought two summer dresses and a pair of trousers, which I really don’t need. Oh, and nail varnish. Oops! So much for my May spending ban!

Anyway, I have a shower that needs cleaning then I can finally sit down and have a cuppa! I hope you’re all having a much more relaxing day.


Rainbow mystery bag from Hearts by Emma

A while ago I read a review of an Etsy shop on The Lilac Llinet. She had purchased a panda mystery bag from Hearts by Emma and it was just adorable! I mean, panda themed stationery! What’s not to love?

I immediately made my way over there and decided to treat myself to a rainbow mystery bag, and it arrived in my mail box the other day.

The goodies were wrapped in gorgeous flower petal paper – I should probably have taken a photo of it pre-unwrapping for this post, but honestly I’d forgotten I even placed the order so I tore right in to try and figure out what on Earth I had just received!

Inside the paper, I found this (at which point I remembered what I had bought and why!):


I could see a cute rainbow/shooting star paper clip inside the pencil case, but not much else.


Once the paper bag was out, it became apparent that there were pencils in there. And a pen.


That’s all the items from the little paper bag.


And there’s everything all together.

The day I received my order was grey and rainy, so this rainbow goodie bag added a much-needed splash of colour to my morning. And those pens are AMAZING! Seriously… I don’t want to write with anything else now! I will definitely be purchasing from Hearts by Emma again.

I bought this mystery bag because I wanted to, and I wrote this post because I know I have readers who appreciate pretty stationery just as much as I do. This review is not sponsored in any way! (As if anyone would ever pay little me for writing a review…)

Let’s talk about Swiss prices

So, I made it to Switzerland! I actually managed to get all the cleaning done in time and the move itself went smoothly. It was a looong day though, hence no blog post last night.

I’ve got this week off to get settled in, so since Jan is at work, I went shopping today. Here’s what I bought:


That little lot cost me 34 Swiss francs, which is 32 euros and 82 cents or 23 pounds 49p. I think it’s about time Jan got his first Swiss pay check!

Cross stitch, cocktails and a new dress

Did you all have a good weekend? Mine flew by too fast, as usual, but I managed to cram a lot in.

On Saturday, I dragged the boyfriend shopping with me. After weeks of failure, I wanted to finally purchase a dress for the christening I’m going to in 2 weeks and I needed him along for a second opinion. We ended up in a shop called BiBa, which I’ve never been in before, and after trying on a dress that made me look completely shapeless, the shop assistant remembered something else they had in stock and came back with something else for me to try on. It fit, it emphasised my good bits (whilst hiding the worst of the lumps and bumps) and I liked the colours… even the little bit of pink on the front didn’t disturb me too much (I hate pink!). And – best of all – it was size XS (something I suspect had more to do with the shop’s sizing system than me). Jan liked it as well, so we decided to go with it, even though it cost slightly more than I had been planning to spend.
And now I bet you all want to see the dress, don’t you? OK… here it is:


That evening, we went to Karlsruhe’s beach bar. One of our friends couldn’t believe we’d never been, and insisted that we take the opportunity now the weather is finally nice. It could very well be raining again by this time next week, and there isn’t that much of the summer left any more. The place itself was nice enough… it’s on the roof of a multi-story carpark, which is pretty cool. You can watch the birds and, once it gets dark, see the stars. The service was incredibly slow though, and the cocktails I tried were a bit meh. The Mojito Razz (raspbery mojito made using Bacardi Razz) was nice enough, but the Hugo was far too sweet and Jan’s Sundowner was awful! Later, we moved on to a new place that Jan and I have walked past a couple of times and been meaning to check out. The Strawberry Colada I had there was amazing! Not too sweet and made with real strawberries.

Cocktails at Soul
Cocktails at Soul

Sunday was mostly spent alternating between housework and cross stitch. Once again, I’m rushing to get a gift finished in time for an event (last time it was a wedding, this time it’s a birth). Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Anyone feel like guessing what it's going to be? ;-)
Anyone feel like guessing what it’s going to be? πŸ˜‰

I still have a long way to go before it even starts to resemble a picture! Guess what I’ll be doing with my evenings this week…
On Sunday evening, we were invited round to a friend’s place for dinner. We had peach chicken with couscous, which was delicious! This was followed by chocolate fondue with plenty of fruit for dipping. My waist line did not thank me, but it was so, so worth it! I also indulged in some Pimms and lemonade (now that’s what they Aldi should have had for their British Isles week instead of Buck’s Fizz… Pimms!). Good food, good company and wine… could there be a more perfect way to finish the weekend?

Ireland, Days 1–3: Dublin

We started our Ireland trip with a long weekend in Dublin, and the very first thing we did on Saturday morning was buy suncream from the Boots near our B&B. Why would one do that in Ireland you ask? Well, this:

Ha'Penny Birdge lantern
Ha’Penny Bridge lantern

The above photo shows one of the lanterns on the Ha’penny Bridge. And behind it? Nothing but blue sky! And the weather continued to be like that for the entire time we were in Dublin. Or at least until we were walking back from the pub on Monday night, which is good enough for me.

Once we were all suncreamed up, we walked on towards town where the first touristy thing we came across was St. Stephen’s Green. We saw swans with cygnets! And also ducks, seagulls and a very cute little girl feeding all the birds (even the pigeons). Then we discovered that the waterfall that’s drawn on the map was a lie, so we went and looked for the statue of The Fates instead, and found out that it had been a gift to the city of Dublin from Germany.

St Stephen's Green
St Stephen’s Green
The Fates
The Fates

Next came shopping because the other female in the group had forgotten to bring a hat out with her and the sun was HOT! We visited TK Maxx first and I looked at sunglasses while she looked at hats, but neither of us found anything. Next stop was Claire’s, where I actually found a pair of sunglasses that suited me (miracle!!) and my friend purchased a fabulous straw hat with cat ears!! Then we stopped by a fancy dress/joke shop, where we had our first encounter with horses heads. We did not buy Charlie at that point though.

Once the girly shopping type stuff was done, we headed towards the river and then on to Leo Burdock’s – Dublin’s oldest fish and chip shop. We arrived at just the right time – there was no queue when we got there and a huge one by the time we left! It being such a gorgeous day, we took our food across the road and ate it on the grass round the back of Christchurch Cathedral, watched by a very well behaved seagull. After he’d let us take several photos of him and not attempted to steal any of our food, we rewarded him with fish. Then we walked into the grounds of the cathedral, where there was a stall selling fudge of various kinds. Jan and I got four varieties: Chocolate, chocolate orange, honeycomb and rum & raisin. Yum, yum!!

Yum yum!
Nom, nom, nom!

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around looking at various things, failing to see Dublin castle because it’s closed to the public while Ireland is hosting the EU presidency, hanging round in a cute little garden near the castle, sneakily using the facilities at the Chester Beatty Library and going inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral before ending up back at the joke shop where we decided we did want a horses head after all.

Inside St Patrick's Cathedral
Inside St Patrick’s Cathedral

Next on the agenda was a cocktail at a bar called Dandelion. The drinks came in plastic glasses and while mine tasted okay it was so weak you could barely tell there was alcohol in it. If you want to drink cocktails, don’t bother with this place! Following our unimpressive cocktails, we went off in search of food, which we found at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen. I quite enjoyed my avocado and bacon beefburger – at least it had a decent amount of bacon in it! Other members of the group were less impressed with their choices though.

Avocado and bacon burger
Avocado and bacon burger

The food thing out of the way, it was time for a few drinks in a real Irish pub… and for some fun with Charlie the horse.

Charlie stole my hat!
Charlie stole my hat!

And thus concludes day one.

The next day was Trinity College day. We decided to pay 10 euros for the tour plus Book of Kells, rather than 9 for just the book. The tour was interesting and out tour guide (David) was pretty cool. The exhibition on the Book of Kells was quite informative, but the book itself was precisely as underwhelming as our Lonely Planet had warned us it would be – with all the many people crowding around it, there simply wasn’t time to get a proper look atΒ  all the detail on the pages. However, the Long Library which you go through to get from the Book to the exit was AMAZING! So many old books… it was like I’d died and gone to heaven!

Lovely, lovely books!
Lovely, lovely books!

It being Sunday, we wanted to look for a roast dinner, but in the end we didn’t actually find one. We went to a pubcalled Slattery’s where I did have some very nice roast chicken, but it came with chips, which is just not the same thing at all. We also spent quite some time persuading a couple of the boys that it’s perfectly okay to order a soft drink in a pub!

Food done, we walked through the shopping area for a bit and finally came to O’Connell Street and the famous Spire of Dublin (officially the Monument of Light for reasons I am unable to fathom).

The Spire of Dublin
The Spire of Dublin

Again, note the blueness of the sky! We couldn’t have had better weather in Dublin if we’d programmed it ourselves!

The next stop was the Garden of Remembrance, where we watched some local kids climb the statue and then scram when the Garda (Irish police) turned up. Very entertaining! Shortly after that, we were asked to leave because the place was closing, so we went and had ourselves a nice cup of tea instead. Charlie was ready for a cuppa too after all that walking!

Aah... a nice cup of tea!
Aah… a nice cup of tea!

Once everyone was refreshed, we walked back down to the river to take photos of more bridges and check out the Famine Memorial.

A very good question to ask of a bridge...
A very good question to ask of a bridge…
The River Liffey and the Harp Bridge (officially Samuel Beckett Bridge)
The River Liffey and the Harp Bridge (officially Samuel Beckett Bridge)
Famine Memorial in the evning sun
Famine Memorial in the evening sun

We finished the day at another pub, where I chose to drink Swedish cider rather than Irish beer and where we discovered an interesting flavour of crisps.

Very Irish crisps!
Very Irish crisps!

Sadly, the taste was rather disappointing. I’ve no idea what shamrock should taste like, but these just tasted like plain old sour cream flavour to me.

On our third and final day in Dublin, the group split up with three of us getting up early to go to Kilmainham Gaol while the other three had a lie in before going shopping. I was with the Kilmainham Gaol group, as I had wanted to go there the last time Jan and I were in Dublin but didn’t get the chance. Both the museum and the guided tour were very informative and at times I found myself almost feeling ashamed to be British –for example after hearing about how James Connolly, one of the ringleaders of the 1916 uprising, who was unable to stand to be executed and was instead tied to a chair to be shot. No wonder so many Irish people hate us!

The "New" east wing of KIlmainham Gaol
The “new” east wing of KIlmainham Gaol

The serious business of the jail done, it was off to the park opposite where we discovered signs with various animals on. There was a sheep, a hedgehog, a squirrel, a cat and this fox:


We then needed change for the bus back in to town (if anyone is going to Dublin be warned: buses are generally correct change only and no notes are allowed – the only exception is the airport express!). We popped into Spar to see if we could buy something and discovered this:

It's a chocolate bar... with crisps in it?!
It’s a chocolate bar… with crisps in it?!

Yes, that really is a chocolate bar with pieces of cheese and onion crisps in. Surprisingly it worked quite well, although I wouldn’t want to eat a whole bar!

Back in town we met up with the others and the two girls went for a hair cut (something I have yet to bring myself to do in Germany). Freshly cut and blow dried, we headed to the cafΓ© next door where the boys were waiting and had a sandwich before heading on to our next activity: a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery. For all those who are thinking of doing the tour… don’t bother!! It’s basically a giant advert for Jameson’s and a total tourist trap!! However, the hot whiskey cocktails we had in the bar afterwards were incredibly tasty, so you could always pop along just for that!

Jameson's Irish coffee
Jameson’s Irish coffee

Whiskey drinking done, we walked back to the town centre to spend out last evening eating and drinking at O’Neill’s bar on Suffolk Street. I may not have got my Sunday dinner the day before, but the carvery at this place more than made up for it!! I had turkey and ham with all the trimmings and I also got to try some of my friend’s lamb, which was amazing!! The food was so good that nobody even thought about taking photos until every last bite of all six meals had been demolished. I’m feeling hungry all over again just typing this!!

And that was the end of our trip to Dublin. Next up: ROAD TRIP!!

Treating myself

I recently saw a pair of black boots with hearts on them on another blog – Lou’s Labyrinth to be precise – and being a sucker for hearts I decided to find out whether that brand (T.U.K) was available in Germany. I wasn’t planning on actually buying a pair – just looking. But when I discovered they were also available in red I was no longer able to resist – hearts and my favourite colour! It had to be done! Plus Amazon had them on sale for a mere 44 euros, rather than their usual 80-something. Obviously, it was destiny.

β™₯ β™₯

I placed the order on 13 February, exactly 6 months before my 30th birthday, telling myself it was necessary retail therapy to get over the shock of the big day being so close. They were dispatched almost immediately and arrived the next day – Valentine’s Day! It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly if I’d planned it that way.

β™₯ β™₯

The neighbour who’d taken the parcel for me wasn’t home when I got in from work, but as soon as she got back she brought it round to me. I could hardly wait to get into the box!

ParcelEven the shoe box had hearts on – a sure sign it was meant to be a Valentine’s gift to myself πŸ˜‰

Shoebox with heartsI think I might actually keep the shoe box to store things in. It’s too pretty to throw away!
Taking off the lid, I got my first glance of the boots.

Red bootOh my! Prettiness!
Out of the box, they looked even nicer:

New bootsHere, have a side view:

Boot - side viewThe next stage, of course, was to try them on. I’d never bought shoes from the Internet before and I was a bit worried about whether they would fit – quite often I’ll try something in “my” size on in a shop, only to find that in that particular style I’m actually a size bigger or smaller.

T.U.K bootsA perfect fit. Hooray! 50 euros well spent πŸ™‚

β™₯ β™₯

Buying things for the flat makes me happy

Close to Schwetzingen, there is a huge furniture store called HΓΆffner. As we were leaving Schwetzingen on Saturday, Jan suggested for drop by there to see if we could find any of the bits we still need for the flat (I love that I have a boyfriend who’s not only willing to shop for furniture with me but actually suggests it himself!). When I agreed to stay I told him that I wanted to get back to sorting out the flat this year, and he obviously took it to heart.

Here’s what we got:

A cupboard to go under the bathroom sink. Jan had to saw its back legs off so it could go on the raised ledge thing that runs the length of the bathroom.

Bathroom cupboard
Bathroom cupboard

I love how neat the bathroom looks now that our toilertries are inside the cupboard and not lined up along the entire length of the ledge!

I wanted something to store wrapping paper in, so we ended up taking this:

Giant vase? Nah... gift wrap holder!
Giant vase? Nah… gift wrap holder!

I saw a beautiful umbrella stand that would have worked just as well, but I refused to pay €75 for something I planned to store wrapping paper in. (I wouldn’t have paid that if I was going to use it for its intended purpose either!)

This basket now holds all my self-help books:

Basket for books
Basket for books

They were previously stacked up under the bedside table, partly because there’s no room left on the bookcase for them but also because I don’t think every visitor to our house needs to know I have those books. It was difficult to move the pile when I wanted to hoover… now I can just pull out the basket.

A gorgeous table runner, or more fuel for my obession with owls:

Owl table runner
Owl table runner

They had bedding with the same owl on, but only in single bed size which is no goo to us.

Jan also got a frame for a poster of his that refused to stay up with simple blu-tack. It looks much nicer framed anyway!

Not a bad haul for a couple of hours shopping.

Primark comes to Karlsruhe

Primark opened in Karlsruhe on Thursday, and being basically an excitable teenager trapped in a 29-year-old body, I naturally went along on the very first day it was open. Being a weekday, I was obviously at work, but I had to go into town that evening anyway to pick up some bits for breakfast, so I decided to head to that end of Karlsruhe for a change. When I first got into Post Galerie, I actually ended up deciding to leave Primark for another day – people were queuing up just to get in the door! So I headed downstairs to Rossman instead and grabbed the bits I needed, then went to the Asian place next door and treated myself to a noodle box with mini spring rolls. Back upstairs, I saw that the queue had gone, so after standing myself in a corner by the lift to finish my tea, I headed inside Karlsruhe’s newest shop. It was very exciting, let me tell you! I wasn’t actually planning on buying anything, just looking around, but of course I gave in. I only purchased three items though. Here they are:

Primark purchases

A pair of tights, which cost me a grand total of €3. That’s THREE tiny little euros. The cheapest pair of winter tights I’ve seen in Karlsruhe ever!! I also got some fluffy foot attire, which Primark refers to as slipper socks although I would personally call them slippers, and finally, a scarf, which was the reason I gave in and decided to buy something after all, mainly because I was invited to a party the next evening and really wanted to own the scarf before then (the original plan was to makea note of what I liked and come back after payday). Here’s a close up of the pattern on the scarf. Sorry, the flash reflected back a bit, but the room was just too dark to do it without a flash.

It’s a scarf with foxes on! How on Earth could I possibly resist!

Actually, I thought I showed a great deal of willpower only buying those three things (and spending less than a tenner on those – something I never thought would be possible in Germany!). I have a whole list of things to go back for though, including another scarf – this time black with little white scotty dogs printerd on it, another pair of the slipper things in dark blue with stars on (they will match my dark blue starry pyjamas perfectly and only cost €1.50), possibly a black dress with tiny swans printed on it (I haven’t decided yet whether I like it), an owl teatowel that I spotted just dumped somwhere it wasn’t actually meant to be and also some Christmas wrapping paper. They had loads of gorgeous ones lined up by the counter and only €1.50 for a huge roll! And I didn’t even look in the homewear part (presumably where the owl was meant to live).

My feet all snuggly in their slippers

I felt right at home being in a Primark shop again, and I must have looked like a real wally wandering round with a grin on my face soaking up the atmosphere. I loved that the UK/IRL sizes were always listed first, and Primark must have flown in some experienced people for the opening because I heard several members of the security/shop-floor staff talking to each other in English, with Irish accents. Gotta love an Irish accent! Leaving the shop with my brown paper Primark bag, and seeing just how many other people were walking around town with them, I must admit I did feel like a bit of a sheep, but there are worse things than being a sheep (like not owning an amazing fox scarf :-))

Retail therapy

The sun came out today and melted most of the snow, so I decided to make the most of it and go shopping. I should have been finishing my progress report for uni and cleaning the flat, but shopping won. I don’t feel too guilty though – that stuff can wait til tomorrow and anyway, most of my purchases were for the flat. I bought:
β—Š A tall glass jar for keeping spaghetti in
β—Š 2 glass serving bowls for the bargainous price of €1.50 each
β—Š A photo frame, which is now hanging on the wall with a photo of Jan and I at my Grandparent’s golden wedding anniversary in it
β—Š A photo album… now the photos I took in Paris in April finally have a home!
β—Š A cake tin
β—Š New towels (2 hand towels, 2 bath towels)
β—Š A plastic box with a lid to keep all my envelopes and writing paper and jiffy bags in.

Not very exciting, I know, but the perfect cure for a week like the one I’ve just had. And I don’t even have to feel guilty because I only purchased things I actually need (well, apart from the photo album and frame, but those were cheap enough not to count…)

I’m going to open a beer now and eat some crisps and dip.The only thing missing to make this evening perfect is Jan. Stupid work sending him to stupid Hamburg to sort out stupid software. You can’t have everything though, I suppose.

Apparantly it’s the end of the weekend…

I’m having a little trouble distinguishing between weekdays and weekends lately. When you’re home all day anyway the days tend to blend into each other, and when you have a boyfriend who goes into work on Saturdays anyway (although he did stay home for the holiday on Thursday) it gets really confusing. I knew today was Sunday though, because everything was closed.

So yesterday the boyfriend gave me 30 euros to buy a pair of shoes for Rome. I had to throw out my old flip-flops cos the straw bit at the bottom was coming unweaved and bits of it were stabbing the bottoms of my feet. Ouch! I also bought myself a new sun hat becuse I still had money left over and it was on sale for only €2.75. Bargain! Last night the two of us stayed at his place so we could stick some clothes in his washing machine this morning. Now everything I need for Rome is clean and by tomorrow it should be dry as well. Excellent.
On the way back to mine this evening we kept running into people from my ex student residence. First someone who used to live on 5th floor… he’s just started working and is now living close to where Jan lives. Next came a couple who used to live on my floor. They had their baby daughter with them. She’s almost seven months old now and getting so big… she’s even grown since I last saw her, in May. And she still has the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen. Then, while we were talking to those two, another girl from my floor came along. She’s still living in the residence and wanted to know if we would be at Parkplatzfest, the big outdoor residence party at the end of this month. We will be back from Rome by then so I told her we probably would. And apparantly before we ran into anyone Jan saw someone from 6th floor sitting outside a Cafe. All those student residence people in one little street. Clearly there are just too many of us!

So, that was my weekend. Tell me about yours πŸ™‚