Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's a pain

It's quite clear that people have different pain thresholds. I'm a complete girlie wuss, my birth plan* was succint and to the point and went something along the lines of "leave the drugs trolley with me". Simon (being male) claims to have a much higher tolerance to pain (of course) and was saying just at the weekend that Jas (who is, it has to be said, only 10) isn't very good with pain***.

At the moment Jas is the snot queen, and this particular beasty of a cold took an evil turn yesterday giving Jas earache. Wicked English mother that I am sent Jas in to school complete with swimming kit (I had suggested that she didn't need to do swimming, but she wanted to, and in my defence she hadn't told me she had earache) I then got a call from Herr B part way through the morning asking me to come and collect Jas because she had earache****.

I collected Jas as requested and immediately rang the children's doctor for an appointment, not wanting the possible ear infection to get too good a grip. This was 11am. The earliest appointment they could give me was 11.45am - I love the German health care system, the Germans whine about it, but if I were in England I'd have been lucky to get an appointment for the following day. What's more, we turned up at the doc's to an empty waiting room and were shown straight in. Prescription followed examination and then home via the chemist - which took two trips as the 1st was out of the antibiotics, although Jas didn't complain because they still gave her a packet of Gummibears despite not being able to serve us!

The doc has given Jas amoxicillin (lemon flavoured) a nasal spray for the snot and ibuprofen tablets that melt on the tongue (for the pain). Jas is not and never has been any good with medicine, fortunately (touch wood) she has always been a very healthy child, when she gets ill she does it in style - a broken arm that needed two operations, a stomach bug that required an intravenous fluid drip and the only other time she's had an ear infection she vomited every time she stood up. When she was tiny and had a cough it was impossibleto get her to take cough medicine because she would vomit it up. And now she has three lots of meds, three times a day...the nose spray she's fine with, not overly impressed, but fine. The antibiotics have to be decanted into an espresso cup and set alongside a glass of water and a glass of something "nice". She take a sip of each, complaining all the time, but at least it's going down, even if it does take 5 minutes for the swallowing of 5ml. The ibuprofen tablets are a different matter. She took one yesterday, the idea is that it melts on the tongue and then you can swallow it, Jas very nearly gagged on the first one and since then has denied having any pain whatsoever. I'm not sure which is greater her new tolerance to pain or her stubborn determination. The hard part is going to be making her take the antiobiotics to the end of the course when she's no longer got any symptoms.

* I don't know if it's still THE thing to do prior to giving birth, but back in the day (damals**) it was what you did to prepare for the upcoming 18+ years of parenting.
** in joke (just between me 'n Muna) sorry.
*** the filing of feet and the application of anti verruca medicine were involved and reduced poor J to a blubbering heap (I hid in the cellar).
**** Herr B then went on to add that if I wanted to keep Jas at home today so that she'd be fit for the evening, when the class are doing their performance of "the Emperor's New Clothes", then that would be fine...well yeah, maybe, but surely maths and grammar are a bit more important?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Snaps 98

This is courtesy of the BBC Radio Times magazine and my dad. I read about the picture online (the BBC have had to publish an apology for printing the photo without first checking to make sure that it wasn't X rated - their excuse was that they thought "it" was the man's hand...) and as the only picture I could see online had a great big red cross through the man's nether regions I asked my dad if he could find it for me. I thought I'd share it with you as I found it highly amusing, as I'm sure all the commandos do.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On the Pier

I've posted before about Hollister* and the hype surrounding it. Well today I went to Gilly Hicks Sydney because I was curious to see what they have to offer. Gilly is promoted as the "cheeky cousin" of Abercrombie and Fitch and as such sell cheeky underwear and beach gear.

I thought for a moment that the shop wasn't yet open (although a friend had spoken of being there last week and so I knew it was open) the double frontage of the shop appeared from a distance to be blue/grey and I thought it was boarded up, but no, the windows are made up of row upon row of TV screens with a sea scene playing, or at least I think that's what it was, I didn't want to appear a complete idiot and stand outside and gawp at the front of the shop.

Walking into the shop there's no difference from Hollister or Abercrombie & Fitch, wooden flooring, wooden shelving, the shop is sub-divided into smaller rooms (to ensure that you get throughly disoriented and go round and round the shop trying to either find what you want or the way out) the music is so loud that is is almost impossible to hear yourself think, let alone what the staff are saying to you (that is when they deem to notice you**) the perfume that is pumped into the air is cloying and a tad on the vomit-inducing side, but what really gets me is the lack of light. It must be like working down in a mine, I guess that explains why the colours of the clothing are so strong, there isn't a pastel shade in sight, in the gloomy, perfumed darkness it would be quite hard to tell pale pink from pale peach but burgundy from turquoise or navy blue? Easy(ish).

My friend who was there last week complained that she couldn't find anything because of the lighting (or rather, the lack of) I replied that I found it easier to look on their website first so that I knew what was on offer, a crazy but workable idea, if they kept the same stock online as instore...they don't. The nice cropped yoga pants haven't hit Deutschland yet, I wonder if they'll make it this season? Germany does have a tendency to be years behind...*** And it is crazy to think that the shop is so badly lit (on purpose) that you need to look at pictures online first to get a true idea of their colour.

I queued for ages at the chechout**** as four little (size 4 or something) girlies faffed about, trying to serve the American lady at the head of the queue. The language wasn't a problem, because she spoke German and they (all four of them) spoke perfect English (it was quite bizarre) the problem was that after scanning all the codes and then swiping the bank card the girlie wanted to input the card number into the till computer (goodness only knows why, they were doing it for every transaction) and not only did the lady's card not have such a number (or maybe it was in the wrong place - I was trying not to be too nosey*****) but the lighting was too dim for the girlies to read the numbers on the cards.

All in all a not too unpleasant shopping experience, Jas is very pleased with her green and white striped top and I have some new knickers to try out. The staff do amuse me though, from the girl who greeted me on entry with "welcome to the pier" (huh? I thought I was in a knicker shop?) through to the (possibly same) one who said "thanks for shopping with us, goodbye", I swear they're clones, all impossibly slim, all young (not a wrinkle or grey hair in sight) long, straight hair and all wearing identical clothing - teeny weeny tops, bottom hugging leggings and flipflops (in January?!) I guess when they come into work as well as punching the time clock they have to leave their personalities at the door - along with their heavy winter coats and themal boots.

I wonder how long I need to leave it before they'll have those cropped yoga pants in store? A couple of weeks? A couple of months or a couple of years?

* American fashion/lifestyle store that is the part of the Abercrombie and Fitch chain.
** The staff in this chain are all chosen for their beauty (whether male or female) and youth, and are clearly expected to display this in the wrapping of the store's merchandise, and as such they clearly think themselves too cool to notice the people that pay their wages.
*** Cashback at the supermarket checkout? I've seen it once. Supermarket online ordering and then home delivery? In our dreams. Fresh deli humous? Have to make it yourself (if you can find the raw ingredients) New bands with CDs in the charts in the UK? Months later they appear here...shall I go on?
**** But I'm used to that here, Germany can never be described as a world of customer service (I do so pity all the poor Americans that wind up here, it must be a nasty shock) and I'm sure Germans are more used to queueing than the Brits.
***** I haven't gone that native, yet.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Saturday night was another quiz night, a friend who's a member of the American Women's Dusseldorf Club (I think that's what they're called) had organised for their group to have an 'International Couples Quiz Night' and as all we had to do was wander down the hill to Lulu's we thought we'd go.

Kick off was slightly delayed due to the quiz master getting lost, in Kettwig (which isn't huge) He rang the bar to say he was outside St Josefhaus and how should he get to us, intructions were given and we waited, and waited. He rang again, still lost, so we sent two husbands out to find him, they headed off up hill from the bar, and then 5 minutes later went past the window in the opposite direction.

The format of the quiz was the same as the one that Ian uses, the bingo style, so the expat regulars (me and Emma) didn't need the explanation of how the quiz worked given by Ve, everyone else looked quite bemused. As usual there were five round of questions, we had wine, holiday destinations, a picture round, trivia and nursery rhymes, here are a few of the questions;

1. which is the largest of the Canary Islands?
2. what colour is the majority of English wine?
3. what substance weighs less as a solid than as a liquid?
4. you're buying tickets for the cinema, is it cheaper to take one friend twice or to take two friends once?
5. along which river are the majority of Germany's vineyards?

I missed the picture round because I had to take an emergency phone call from a 10 year old girl who was reluctant to go to bed without me being there (goodnees knows why, she usually manages it without having her hand held*) I sorted the problem out by having a chat with the babysitter (elder brother) and promised him that I wouldn't make him get out of bed until 11am as long as he put his sister to bed patiently, the way he would with other people's children when he's being paid to do it. My fellow team mates managed the picture round without me, all apart from one question, which I didn't know either - the pictures were all of different board games and merely had to be named, I'd have been able to contribute to that round as well if I hadn't had to stand outside negotiating a peace treaty**.

I had high hopes at the beginning of the evening, managing to get onto Emma's**** team, I should have paid heed to her when her husband defected to the team of two on the next table, claiming they needed him more, Emma said then that he was better than her, and he was - by two whole points. Good job he can't usually make it to quiz nights, truly a force to be reckoned with. We ended up with 20/25, not enough and we weren't first to get either 4 corners or a row, that'll be the last time I get to be on Emma's team I bet, truly ending her winning streak!

1. we put Tenerife (which is correct) and then changed our minds to Gran Canaria, which is clearly a misleading name.
2. white.
3. Simon didn't like the wording of this question, saying it should be about density and not weight, we evenutally put water, which is correct.
4. two friends once of course.
5. Rhine.

* please note that she's not home alone, but in the care of her elder brother.
** when I'm finished with this parenting lark*** the U.N. will be able to make use of my negotiation skills.
*** although I get the impression that parenting is one job with no end date and no 'get out of jail free' card either, just golden handcuffs!
**** at expat quiz nights Emma usually wins, if not a row then the overall quiz, her goal (when Ian was quizmaster) was always to get 25/25, while the rest of us just tried not to get too embarassingly a low number!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Snaps 97

Courtesy of Jasmine, this is the toilet roll dispenser in the ladies' loos in a local restaurant, Jas and I think it's very funny.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Villa Landleben

I'm just back from a relaxing breakfast, and I know it may be almost time now for lunch but as I've not long ago finished breakfast (and it is definitely more breakfast than brunch - seeing as we started at 9am) I don't think I'll be needing any midday sustenance.

Villa Landleben
has become our* favourite breakfast haunt, we're not there every week but maybe every month (our last visit was at the end of November, just before everything went Christmas crazy) and we've been so often (this is not necessarily a good thing, I know) that one of the staff came over and asked if we'd translate something for her the next time we're there - shame then that next month we've decided to try somewhere else, just for a change - more of that later, but we'll be back to Villa Landleben, if not in February then in March, the food is too good and the extra shopping afterwards (think quirky clothing, English tea room china and bits of sparkly jewelry) is just the cherry on the top of particularly scrummy cake.

This morning's chat seemed to be even more school focused than normal (apologies to the 1 girlie who is the only one who doesn't even have children, let alone children in the German school system!) Something to do with the fact that 1 mom has a son whose doctor is recommending Ritalin (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, we all screamed) another is trying to find a different high school (for her newly transplanted into Germany, son) preferably one that doesn't have too strong a focus on Latin and 2 moms with children making the decision about which high school to go to after primary school. I think the 2+ hours spent over coffee and croissants and smoked salmon and fresh fruit was great therapy for all of us!

We enjoy our morning breakfast chats, just as decadent as martini nights in their way, and just as much fun (and no hangover the day after - just lots of guilt about the number of calories consumed). We usually arrange the next one whilst we're still finishing off our last coffees and this time was no exception, four weeks takes us Wednesday February 15th, so I suggested we meet on the 14th, that way we can all be each other's Valentines because none of us is fortunate enough to have married a romantic man who would think of doing something sweet and surprising (without being cattle prodded into it first) Rachael even had the perfect venue for it, "The Chocolate Room", a coffee shop that specialises in hot chocolate** (as well as pralines and truffles) but that also does breakfast, sounds ideal for 5 girlies, I'm looking forward to it already.

* local expat girlies (me, Rebecca, Rachael, Princie and Karen + whoever else has time and desire to come along too)
** you can choose the strength of your hot chocolate, anything and everything from 50/60% cocoa up to 80/85% - delicious.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Where the wild things are*

Before living in Germany we lived in England. Most recently in a small village in Staffordshire with fields just a stones throw away, and before that on the edge of a small town very close to Cannock Chase. We lived closer to the countryside than we do now, here in Kettwig, which although very quaint and just on the river is still more a town with bits of the countryside encroaching. Which makes it odd that there's more wildlife here in the middle of the residential area where we live than ever we encountered back in England. Maybe it's because the density of inhabitants is greater in Blighty, maybe there's more wild stuff here on the continent, I'm quite sure it's nothing to do with me becoming more observant!

In Abbots Bromley the wildest creatures we had to put up with were the squirrels that liked to bury acorns in our lawn or the odd deer risking life and limb trying to cross a country lane. But here? Here there's way more.

We have squirrels, of course, but these are the cute red ones, because the big grey American fiends haven't made it onto the continent yet, although it's possible that they have but it's just that there's something bigger than them here that likes a bit of grey squirrel for dinner. There are deer too, I've seen them while I've been out with the dog, now that's a thing of beauty (seeing a deer in the early morning mist, not the dog, clearly). Herons and woodpeckers along by the river are fun to watch/listen to. But it's the rodenty** creatures we seem to have in adundance.

It started with cute little field mice, running along the outside of the house, driving the dog scatty as he tried to find where they'd disappeared to.
It's cold outside now, far too cold for the field mice to play outside so they've relocated and Simon isn't happy. They're in the garage, don't know how they got in, just know that we need to get rid of them. Si bought a plug in electronic noise thingy that is supposed to emit a sound they don't like (and no, it doesn't miaow) but as I've seen the cheeky chaps since it was installed it clearly doesn't work. Yesterday the antimouse action stepped up a gear and I bought two mouse traps and got the tame teenager to earn his keep by setting them up and giving him responsibility for checking and emptying them.

We've had rats too (dog not so keen to chase them) I saw them the other side of the garden fence, running under the neighbours' laurel bushes, then the cheeky buggers climbed up our fence and jumped onto the bird table and ate the bird food. After consultation with the neighbours the ratman was called in and poison traps put down, haven't seen the buggers since.

We also have Martens along our road. I knew about them, having read scare stories online about what they can do to your car, and a friend who has moved to a house with lots of mature trees overlooking the road has been informed by her neighbour that the martens living in the trees have got into her engine and chewed through various cables rendering the car undriveable***. My neighbour spotted martens hanging about in front of our houses and we have certainly witnessed one vanishing up into the engine compartment of a car further along the road (they curl up on the cooling engine) - I'm so glad my car can go in the garage, I don't think field mice are as reknowned for damaging car cables as martens are!

* great book to read to children but the most rubbish film ever apart from ''No Country for Old Men", which was another film that left me feeling I'd lost valuable time from my life.
** have just googled one of said critters and discovered that despite it's love of nibbling it isn't a rodent - apparently to be a rodent you have to have specialised teeth that grow continuously (there's more to the definition obviously, but I wont bore you)
*** I have a feeling that the neighbour was trying hard to apportion blame for insurance claim purposes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Snaps 96

January 15th and the snowdrops are out, and the bulbs are pushing through and the birds are singing for mates...nature is screwed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Wizard of Oz

It's never easy having to step into someone shoes is it? No matter how big or trivial the situation, you are always conscious that someone has set the bench mark that you will be measured against and there is damn all you can do about it apart from trying your best.

As I blogged last month, Ian, our expat quiz master, abandoned us and returned to England (or at least Yorkshire) leaving in his stead, Chris to take on the challenge of concocting a perfect quota of quiz questions once a month. 25 questions that should be the right combination of huh? and ah! and uh? and YES! They can't be too hard (because we'd get too demoralised and not want to play again - yes, we are that fickle) and yet can't be too easy (because Lesley doesn't want to have to give everyone a prize) but also the demographic of the group is so varied and so variable, one month there might be 8 people, another 28, aged from 28 to 58 and coming from pretty much every continent in the world - the only common determinator is the language and even the English spoken is diverse, at times American English can be as different from British English as Dutch is from German and let's not get started on those for whom English is a second language despite the fact that they speak it fluently.

There was a faint whiff of grease paint in the air at Lulus last night and Chris was very keen to get the show on the road, I doubt it was first night nerves or stage fright seeing as his day job is being tenor opera singer, I think he just wanted to get going and put his mark on the quiz.

The quiz was the same 'bingo' format as usual but Chris had added a special Antipodean twist, a joker, whichever team got closest to the right answer for the joker question would win the right to play the joker during the answers and request the question number that they wanted next, so allowing them to complete a row and possibly win (the answers are read out in a random order, you see*). The joker question was;
- how many churches were burnt down during the Great Fire of London?
We** had no idea, I stopped doing history at school as soon as possible, Jason wanted to go low, I wanted to go high so we compromised with the number he plucked out of thin air, 111. And we won the joker because we were closest to the answer of 87 (which is the random number that Sing wanted us to put...)

And onto the quiz itself, here are a few of the questions that we had to puzzle over;

1. What is the oldest alcolholic drink?
2. What is a chukka?
3. Rose Tyler and Sara Jane Smith wer companions to whom?
4. On which continent are there the fewest inhabitants?
5. Which came first the photograph or the bicycle?
6. What do the letters 'C+M+B' represent when written above a doorway in chalk?
7. In which civilization is L greater than XL?

A great mix of questions, made even better by the fact that we were the first team to get a row (thanks to having a Joker to play) and we were one of the four teams to get the top score of 19/25 - failed the tie break question though;

What year was the founding of the Spanish Inquisition?

We plucked a number out of the air, none of us having a clue and 1623 was way out of the ballpark, the actual answer is 1480.

I think Chris can be quite satisfied with last night, the quiz was a great succes, with at least seven teams playing (some of whom were Germans, who hadn't got a clue what they were agreeing to at the beginning) and I for one will definitely be back for more next month, although I shall have to find a new team as my co-conspirators are taking off for a month on Friday. Maybe I can play with Emma***?

1. Beer, which we put and then crossed out as Jason deemed brewing too complex a process to have been the first, we went with cider.
2. This was a multiple choice question and we had a,b,c & d to choose from, I didn't hear the other options, because having read Jilly Cooper's 'Polo' and being a keen reader of OK & Hello**** (when I can get my hands on them) I wrote down 'polo' before he'd got as far as 'c) a period of play in the game of polo.
3. The whole bar collectively went "huh?" and we all stared about vacantly, Chris read the question again and I had a lightbulb moment. Doctor Who of course! Smug doesn't even come close to describing that feeling!
4. In this particular round everything began with 'A', Antartica.
5. Jason wanted to put bicycle, but I can smell a trick question a mile off (or at least last night I could) so I wrote down photogrpah, a good job I had control of the pen.
6. After living in Germany for four years I know this because I've asked about it, it's the three kings - Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.
7. I recognised this as Latin numerals but it was Jason who pointed out that in Latin L is greater than XL, I can just about remember that X=10 & C=100...

* it makes sense when you're there and playing along, honest.
** our team last night was me, Jason & Sing.
*** Emma always wins, but was unable to attend last night - shall have to remember to thank her husband for arranging to be away so that she couldn't come out to play!
**** all my guilty secrets are coming out.

Monday, January 9, 2012

And the Winner is....

drum roll please....

The Word of the Year 2011* is

after much debate and deliberation***


Please note, this is 'Stresstest' - all one word, not 'stress test' the way the rest of the world would have it, and the stress (ho ho) will be on the second syllable, not the first where one would think it should be - these Germans are quite, quite bonkers sometimes.

So who else was in the running for first place? There was 'hebeln', which is a new verb that seems to mean to crank or lever something - a word much used over the last 12 months due to the ongoing crisis in the financial sector and the rescue of the euro countries, and there was 'Arabellion' which only made it to 3rd place, and reflected the need for a generic term for the numerous revolutions and political upheavals in the Arab and North African countries, the Germans do love to adopt new words, just because there are fewer words in the German language than in the English, they cannot be beaten by the English.

Stresstest was chosen because
not only were banks tested for their resilience, the railway station project Stuttgart 21 came under pressure as did the green-red state government of Baden-Württemberg and German nuclear power plants were also subjected to stress tests.

The top 10 looks like this (if you're interested):
1. Stresstest
2. hebeln
3. Arabellion
4. Merkozy
5. Fukushima
6. Burnout
7. guttenbergen
8. Killersprossen
9. Ab jetzt wird geliefert
10. Wir sind die 99%

We have to wait another week or so before the 'unwort' of the year is revealed, I can't wait, the anticipation might be too much, if you're lucky I'll forget all about it, the killersprossen**** might get me before then or maybe I'll get burnout, though as always I will try my hardest not to guttenbergen*****!

* according to the jury of the GfdS**
** Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (society for German language)
*** I'm assuming the jury took a long time to make a decision, afterall it is a very serious decision, not to be taken lightly and as Germans take everything seriously this would have been a doubley serious decision making process surely.
**** back in the 'summer' we never had there were too many cases of people ending up in hospital seriously ill after possibly having eaten beansprouts, I don't think it was the beansprouts that did for them but I'm blowed if I can remember now what it was actually traced back to. I think at one point all fruit and veg was suspect so we ate cake.
***** Guttenberg was the very silly German politician who got caught copy and pasting in his doctoral thesis, oops, hence the new verb, to guttenberg = to plagiarise.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Snaps 95

The anount of rain we've had this last two/three weeks it's no wonder the river's flooded, swimming cossie rather than trainers and running gear would have been more use!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The calm after the storm

Today my house is guest-less for the second time in three weeks, but this time the calm is here to stay, no guests on the foreseeable horizon and we even wave Simon off for almost two weeks later today. So within 24 hours we'll have gone from six (+1*) to four (+1) to three (+1). The house will positively echo.

This Christmas break has been our most sociable since we moved here almost five years ago (June 7, 1997) we started on Christmas Eve meeting up at Lulus (where else?) with expat friends and their children for hot chocolate (laced with rum) and donuts. Christmas day and Boxing day were very English in that they were quiet family affairs, which confuses the Germans, who do their family Christmas bit on Christmas Eve evening and then seem to be out and about on the 25th, I had a friend last year (or rather the year before last, Christmas 2010) who turned up around 2pm to ask if she could take Logan for a walk, I think she was quite surprised not to be asked in but 2pm on the 25th? Peak panic chef time.

On the 27th we had an invitation to a friend's for afternoon cake which was lovely and could easily have become an alcoholic session but we had an evening appointment in Dortmund with the circus "FlicFlac". I don't think these guys tour outside of Germany (unlike Cirque de Soleil) but if you ever get the opportunity to see them then go and get the best seats you can, they are jaw droppingly amazing and have a great attitude, the whole thing is accompanied by a rock band and you're told at the beginning that you can take photos (but please no flash) and video as long as you then upload to YouTube/facebook etc.- got to admire that bit of shameless self promotion! The last but one act had seven motorbikes roaring around inside a metal sphere***, I had thought that this was the finale but as these guys exited the sphere and the ring we could hear and feel motorbikes beneath our seats and then suddenly a bike shot out of the exit/entrance stairwell just meters from our our seats, it soared into the air, over the top of the sphere and landed on a ramp at the far side of the ring almost behind the curtains, the roaring of bike continued as another one appeared and another but they didn't just ride their bikes through the air, oh no, that would have been too easy, the majority flew only holding onto the handlebars but the very last one? He and his bike somersaulted as they crossed the arena.

The next two days were quiet as we changed guests, swapping one lot of grandparents for another, then on Friday evening we were invited to a hot glühwein party at an American friend's. They (she's married to a German) called it "Feuerzangenbowle" and it starts off as glühwein in a bowl over a burner, to which a specially designed metal spoon is added across the bowl with a pyramid of sugar on it, this is doused thoroughly in rocket fuel/schnapps/xx% proof alcohol which is then lit, the molten sugar drips down through the holes in the spoon and whenever the flames seem to be dying down more alcohol is poured over until all of the sugar is gone.

Saturday evening was of course New Year's Eve, and we and 20 or so other adults (plus children) had dinner and drinks and the obligatory fireworks at Rebecca's. I think my mother in law was almost disappointed on New Year's day when I didn't have a hangover, shall have to try harder next year!

And that was our social festive season, my calendar is disturbingly barren with the exception of quiz night this coming week and then girlie breakfast the week after, January stretches emptily ahead, why do the 31 days of the first month always seem more like five weeks? Maybe it's the lateness of the sunrise and the earliness of the sunset or the dankness of the weather, either way January hasnot and never will be my favourite, I love February partly because it's so short but also because it's not January.

* the +1 being Logan, who although not strictly human** creates enough mess and demands that he has to be counted, and you certainly notice when he isn't in the house!
** the way he plays with the various children that come here I am never sure whether the children regress to animal or he advances to human.
*** it's usually eight, but the previous week one of them had got his timing slightly wrong and ended up in hospital, nothing broken, but clearly unfit to take part.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Look Back in Anger?

So 2011 is done and dusted and what did I achieve (different to any other year that is?)?


I'm not cross about this lack, merely commenting on it. Every day when Si either calls from some far flung part of the world or arrives home just in time for dinner, he asks, with the regularity of a German's bowel movements;
"how was your day?"
To which I invariably reply; (unless I'm suffering from PMT that is, or have had to help with homework)


To which he responds;

"Anything to report?"


When questioned about my daily activities I usually find that I have done nothing worth expending breath on. And so when you add 365 days of nothing of note together you get the grand sum of zero to report - funny how I manage to blog about nothing, and quite regularly too.

But I must have done something this last year? Surely...let's think*

January - Simon went to China, we had stupid amounts of snow hanging around until forever following the almighty dumping on Christmas Eve (it snowed all night and all day) we went to see Wicked (in German) shame I'd never seen The Wizard of Oz - that might have made up for what was lost in translation.

February - Simon went to Korea, I trekked over to Bochum to a lovely independent cinema to watch Colin Firth in The King's Speech (this was the only place showing it in NRW in original language)

March - Karneval in all its grimness was celebrated (or not as the case may be, I think we still had snow and so I refused to go and stand in the street to try and catch sweets being thrown from the floats) Julie had a great birthday party which involved large quantities of champagne, my brother flew in so that we could go and watch Kylie (who was amazing) my parents came for a visit and I joined the gym.

April - Simon's birthday, Ben and Simon went to England for the weekend to eat curry and go to the Gadget Show, Easter hols and we went to Center Parcs in France and it was unseasonably warm, we had a Royal Wedding party here which people still mention (that'll teach us to get ourselves in the press)

May - helped at the Music for Japan benefit by making mojitos for 5 hours, went to the Giacomo Variations in Recklinghausen starring John Malkovich (bonkers doesn't even start to cover it) there was the 1st 'formal' German party of the year which was surprisingly chilled and not at all what we'd expected, Jas had her 10th birthday and we took 10 little girls to Build a Bear (possibly the most successful children's birthday party we've ever hosted) the outlaws came for a visit, Ben had his 14th birthday, Jas had a vegetable festival at school (it was as dull as it sounds) had our 2nd formal German birthday party which was also quite chilled**, went to Solingen*** with Jas's choir to help with their competition entry.

June - 3 bank holidays, Ben went away with his class for 3 days, helped with Jas's choir production of the Pied Piper (little children, en masse, shudder)

July - Princie had an Independence Day party, Ben's class held an Abschlussfest (to mark the moving from the unterstufe to the mittelstufe) it was at a canoe club with the idea that they could play canoe polo or something, great idea for July, except the weather had other ideas, I went to Jas's class to show them a heart experiment (mental note to self - NEVER AGAIN), we celebrated Princie's 30th birthday, Simon went to Japan, Jas's class had their Abschlussfest to say goodbye to the year 4's, went to Spain for 10 days of proper summer.

August - returned from Spain on the 4th (in the very early hours of the am) and flew out to England on the 5th, celebrated sister in law's 40th birthday with a (not) surprise birthday lunch, visited my parents and my bf Alison, rioters were in all the news headlines****, Simon went to Australia, Jas started to do HipHop.

September - my parents came, our 3rd formal German party and again just food and drink and chatter - perfect, school started back, yet another party and still no presentation, went to see Cirque de Soleil with my parents, spent a Saturday morning going round a chemical plant.

October - my birthday, went to the Rocky Horror Show, Jas went to Langeoog for 6 days with her class, Si went away somewhere, halfterm holidays and we went to Rome for 5 days.

November - went to the Ideal Home Show with Emma and drank rather a lot of wine rather early in the morning, test drove the Mini Countryman, ordered a Mini Countryman, Logan developed a limp, the inlaws came to do the Christmas markets.

December - Jas's laternefest was survived without frostbite unlike the previous year, we had our Christmas Cocktail party, we went to the Corks for carols (another December tradition) went out for dinner to celebrate Rebecca's birthday, Emma had an open house, Si went to Japan, my parents came for Christmas, I collected my new, sparkly Mini, we went to see FlicFlac in Dortmund, the inlaws came for Sylester, Karen hosted a hot glühwein party and we saw in the New Year at the Warburton's along with 20 or so other adults and about the same number of children.

And that was my uneventful year.

Here's to 2012, I've made one resolution, to get the manuscript I've written fit for sending to literary agents...I shall have to do it now that I've put it into black and white.

* run to diary and flick through pages.
** no Powerpoint presentation or slide show or games or skits, in fact no formal entertainment at all, just good food, an open bar, great music to dance and people to chat to.
*** had to sit on a damp, sweaty coach next to a snotty kid for an hour there and an hour back - grim.
**** I swear it was just coincidence that we went back to Enlgand and that very weekend the riots kicked off.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday Snaps 94

Jas's very late breakfast on New Year's day (after a very late night), ketchup with scrambled eggs on the side.