Stereotypes have to come from somewhere…

I spotted this in Karlsruhe train station on my way to work yesterday. I guess it’s true what they say about the Germans… when the sun comes out, so do the socks with sandals!

So very German...
So very German…
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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…

Will this day ever end?

It’s currently ten o’clock at night. I’ve been up since 6 am, it’s been a long, stressful day at work, in which I didn’t even have time for a proper lunch break and all I want to do is go to bed and sleep… possibly until the end of the week. Unfortunately this is not possible. Tea is still in the oven refusing to do what it’s meant to do (stop being liquid mainly). On top of that, the kitchen is full of unwashed dishes from last night’s tea, which I am going to fail to wash once again, and I still haven’t taken out the food waste, despite the fact that I’ve been meaning to for about three days. My Grandma has just informed me that one of the stereotypes that Germans have about the British is that we’re messy… and she knows for a fact Jan thinks that about me. Thanks Grandma – at least now I know what you two talk about behind my back! And the worst of it is I can’t even deny it. After all, we all know I’m the world’s worst housewife (I’ve mentioned it often enough!). The best defense I could come up with was “he can talk”. Very original! I also managed to get on the wrong tram this morning, my train was delayed this evening and Jan is not home yet. This certainly hasn’t been what I would call one of the better days in my life. Here’s hoping tomorrow will be better… once I’ve had some sleep!

The rain never stops in Gross Britannien

I’m annoyed this morning. When I went to make my breakfast I found that nobody had set the dishwasher away last night and there were no knives in the drawer. I had to wash one before I could butter my toast. Grr. I supopose things like that are to be expected when you live with so many people (16 of us on my floor, and we have less becasue the caretaker has one corridor) but it’s happening a little too often lately. I object to having to wash the dishes before I’ve even started cooking!

I think I must have complained too loudly about being hot yesterday after all – it’s raining now.
Whenever I complain about the rain here some “Hilarious” German feels the need to say “but shouldn’t you be used to this, coming from England?” or “doesn’t this weather make you feel at home then?”. Do you think they’ve noticed that Great Britain is an island. It’s surrounded by sea. If it really rained as much as people here seem to think we’d have been washed away by now!

Here are some other stereotypes that the Germany have about English people:

  • British people can’t cook. We also don’t know what spice is for, so all our food is boring and bland.
  • We’re obsessed with “peppermint” sauce and eat it with everything.
  • We have ham and eggs for breakfast every morning (I blame the school text books for this one… especially the “ham” part. Would it really so difficult for the kids to remember the word bacon??)
  • We eat fish and chips all the time. With lots of vinegar, which makes them taste disgusting. (Actually if we used the kind of vinegar they’re thinking of it probably would taste disgusting. They don’t seem to do malt vinegar here…)
  • We drink lots of tea, all the time. Several hundred cups a day. And we put milk in it. (This one’s partially true. I know people that actually do drink (what seems like) hundreds of cups of tea every day. But try getting a German to believe that not every English person likes tea…)
  • We’re crap at football (actually I can see why they think that. Which team isn’t in the European cup this year again? That’d be England I believe…)
  • All English people have ginger hair, pale skin and freckles. (I actually almost fit this stereotype – I have pale skin and freckles and my hair is reddish, but not ginger)

That’s all I can think of right now, and I have to get ready for work anyway. If anyone would like to add any more stereotypes to the list please comment. Maybe some stereotypes that people in countries other than Germany have about us? (And any Germans reading this please don’t take offence. It’s just for fun! I actually really like Germans and love living in Germany.)