Travel theme: Time

I decided to link up with Ailsa at Where’s My Backback for her latest travel theme, Time.

Where better to start a post on Time than with the Royal Observatory in Greenwich – home of Greenwich Mean Time.
Here’s the top of the observatory peering out above the tree tops.

Greenwich1

And the same thing again without the trees:

Greenwich2

The red ball at the top is the Greenwich Time Ball. Every day, at 12:58, it is raised so that it can be dropped again at precisely 1 p.m. In the old days, this would be used to set world time. Now, of course, everything is digital. But the ball remains and continues to be dropped every day.

Staying in London, but moving on to a different kind of timing keeping device.
I give you Big Ben, as viewed from a cabin of the London Eye. Actually, Big Ben is only the name of the bell – the clock tower is now officially called the Elizabeth Tower, having been renamed to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee (previously it was just The Clock Tower – how imaginative!) and the clock itself doesn’t have a name, as far as I know.

London

Enough of London now. Let’s switch countries.
This colourful clock tower is in Lucerne, Switzerland:

time tower

It’s known as the Zytturm, which is Swiss German for “Time Tower”.

One more clock, I think, before I move on. Some of you may recognise the famous astronomical clock on Prague’s Old Town Hall:

astronomical clock

I apologise for the terrible photo!
And to finish with, my favourite time of all… Tea time!

Tea

To see how other people have interpreted the theme of Time, go here. If you want to join in yourself, you have until tomorrow to get your Time post up. On Friday, the next travel theme will be launched.

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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…

Time is flying, never to return

Has it really been a whole week since I last updated my blog? How on Earth did that happen?
I wish I could tell you it’s because I’ve been doing so many exciting things that I haven’t had time to sit down at the computer, but the truth is I don’t actually know what I’ve been doing with myself all week. I’ve been at work, obviously, but other than that… no idea. It seems somebody’s been messing with time again. Even today seems to have flown by at the speed of a hurricane. I’m currently in the middle of cooking tea (corned beef hash for those who are interested in such things) but it seems like a matter of mere minutes since I was eating breakfast. Only the rumbling in my stomach and the fact that it’s now dark serve to tell me otherwise.
A glance at my to do list for the weekend tells me that I’ve swept the flat, done some washing, tidied the living room and worked on my dissertation but failed to sort out my bank statements or clean the bathroom sink. Good to know. I also went to Cafe Brenner for coffee and cake with the boyfriend this afternoon (nice cafe, decent coffee, reasonably good cake – although Endle’s is better – but the staff could use some lessons in friendliness!). But can that really have taken up my entire weekend? It seems like so little for two whole days.
Tomorrow is Monday again. The last Monday in February, the final week of my probation period. Soon the moment of truth shall be upon us. As will pay day. Here’s hoping this month’s pay isn’t the last for a while…

Finally home

Is it just me or has this been a looong day? I actually had a cup of coffee at work this morning. This is a rare occurence… I’m too lazy to put the coffee maker on. But there was a language lesson going on (we do language courses as well as translation) and someone had made coffee for the teacher, so I got a cup. Hurrah! It didn’t wake me up any though. I’m still incredibly tired. I would say an early night is in order, but the boyfriend said he would call tonight and he never calls before 10pm, ever.

After work I went shopping. I had to buy stuff for the meal I’m cooking for my floor tomorrow. Yesterday I went shopping for myself. I spent 9 euros and 90 cents. For my whole weeks shopping. Today I spent 13 euros, on shopping for one meal for my floor. And I didn’t even buy everything! I left the most expensive bits to Jan, not because I’m tight but because it’s much easier for him to get hold of fresh parsley and 1,000g of mince. Aldi don’t do fresh herbs. They barely even do dried herbs! Jan has access to shops where they do sell such things, and also has the added advantage of being able to ask for stuff in German (ok, I can ask for stuff in German too… I just don’t want to).
I decided on strawberries and cream for the dessert. It’s kind of typically English… at least I’ve never met any German who would think of putting cream on their strawberries (it’s all about yoghurt or icecream here) and it takes much less work than trifle or even the incredibly simple apple crumble. A winner all round I’d say.

And now, once again, it’s tea time and I have to decide what I’m going to eat all on my lonesome…