Archive for the 'summer' Category

Our summer in England

This year, Tony gave me a present on his birthday. I came home to find a card in the doorway (painted by Rose) with four cans of compressed gas. The rest of the gift was laid out on the living room floor: two inflatable bed rolls, two sleeping bags (the kind that zip together), a small gas cooker and a tent. He had a plan. The plan was for “a grand camping trip through England”.

I’m sure many people thought us foolish for spending our precious summer holiday on a camping trip to England. Actually, I know some of you did. You told me. Despite the inhibiting factors kindly pointed out to us (advanced pregnancy, unreliable weather, unreliable car, etc) we embarked on our big adventure. A last hurrah as a family of three.

High and low points:

Ferry trip from Dunquirk to Dover. White cliffs, as promised.

Staying with delightful Jim and Libby West, our new friends in Essex.

Seeing Jamie Oliver’s father Trevor at the Cricketer’s in Essex

A day in London

Singing “Portobello Road” on Portobello Road and “Feed the Birds” on the steps of St Paul’s

Spending the second night of our camping adventure in Gloucester hospital with severe vomiting

Free health care with my German health insurance. Love the European Union.

Being advised by the hospital doctor not to continue with the camping adventure

Deciding to salvage the holiday with last minute guesthouse accommodation

“Full English” breakfasts in guesthouses

The beautiful Cornish seaside

Driving onto the narrowest, steepest pedestrian street in Cornwall with swarms of tourists glaring

Finding that, despite all appearances to the contrary, it was possible to drive out the other side

Bath (so far my all time favourite city)

Cambridge (so far Tony’s all time favourite city)

A Jane Austen pilgrimage to Lyme Regis

Being in so much pre-labour pain that I couldn’t reach the Cobb to see Louisa Musgrove’s steps

Spending the warmest, driest day of our trip on the side of the road waiting for a tow-truck

Learning our car was not broken down

Driving safely home through five countries

Being home just in time to go into labour

Thanks must go to my darling husband. It was his idea, his generosity and his exertion which made such a holiday possible. Always my companion in adventures big and small.

xxx

And the winner is

Before we declare the summer well and truly passed, the search for Leipzig’s best ice cream begs to be resolved. And friends, we have a hands-down winner. A couple of months back I discovered the organic, locally made ice cream available at Gourmetage in the Mädler Passage. The Mädler is Leipzig’s Rodeo Drive. Within lies the 450 year old Auerbach’s Keller, which features in Goethe’s Faust. No seventy cent cones here.

A meticulously groomed girl in a black and white uniform emerges from the champagne bar to serve us our ice creams. Her scoops are generous and impeccably round. She offers to let me sample some of the flavours. We both try the Basillikum. “Tastes like basil” she says, and we both burst out laughing. I must choose between Guava and Coconut, Mango and Ginger, Lime and Mint, Strawberry and Lavender, Pineapple and Parsley, to name but a few. In the end I can’t go passed plain old Schokolade. Only it isn’t plain, it’s out of this world. Now this is more like it.

Apricot Fro Yo

Long before Jamie Oliver set out to expose the hideous truths of British school dinners, Camden Public School had a “healthy canteen” policy. Bless you, Mrs Meek. No chips, no nuggets, no double-choc muffins to be had. Whenever Mum did slip us a few coins towards recess, rounds of bread topped with cheese or Vegemite, pieces of fruit and any number of coconut apricot balls were the order of the day. There was one special treat that our canteen permitted: frozen yoghurt. Oh the sheer bliss of that creamy, tangy little tub and that novelty-sized spoon. May I suggest you drop everything and try the following? It’s quite possibly one of the easiest and most delicious things I’ve ever made. Perfect if you’re trying to pretend it’s really summer, when it just isn’t.                           

Apricot Frozen Yoghurt

A tip: don’t reach for your Jalna, your Vaalia and definitely not your Ski. Use plain old unsweetened yoghurt.

2x 1kg tubs of plain yoghurt
1 cup sugar + 2 tbs
1 kg fresh apricots

Strain the yoghurt through a muslin cloth for several hours or overnight. Halve your apricots and poach them in simmering water with 2tbs of sugar. Three to five minutes should do it. Strain and leave them to cool completely. Whisk together the yoghurt, apricots and sugar, reserving some apricots to swirl in later. Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour or two. Break out your ice cream maker, or do as I do and beat it every hour for three hours as it freezes. I love checking its progress and watching the creaminess increase with each successive beating. Stir in your reserved apricots after the final whiz and leave it to get nice and firm. Unbelievable, really.

An open letter to the German weather

Dear German weather,

I want us to be friends. I know we’ve had our differences, our share of ups and downs. I wont pretend I wasn’t angry after some of the things you did last winter. But I feel I owe you an apology. I may have been a little harsh, a little too quick to judge. I didn’t realise what you were planning, in fact, I’d forgotten what you were capable of. Spring was some of your finest work. May was nothing short of a masterpiece. I was sorry I ever doubted you. But see, I’d hate for things to go backwards again. And now, while Americans complain of the “heatwave”, German friends tell me they’ve never had a July like this.

So, I ask you, where is the sunshine? Where are the balmy evenings? It’s been weeks. You’ve had your fun. But please, enough is enough. There’s still time for August. I believe you can do hot, even here. So let’s see it.

Deal?

ps Thanks all for the birthday cards and Tim Tams, 28 isn’t so bad.

pps Yes I did knit that. Ravelry notes here.

ppps Apologies for the gratuitous polaroids. The app makes a cute sound.

Ice cream on Koch

There are some disconcerting paradoxes in a city like Leipzig, walled in for forty years under a communist dictatorship. Make a visit to the Stasi Museum, as I did last week, and you’ll come out blinking in the sunlight and wondering at the horrors committed and experienced here. Toddle south to Alfred-Kästner-Strasse and you’ll find the place where executions were carried out for the entire GDR from 196o onwards. Turn the corner and you’ll arrive at the Eiscafe on Koch Strasse.

You’ll find a little trove awash with nostalgia, frozen in time (so to speak). Wallpaper, signage, furniture and ice cream equipment all preserved as they were for forty years. I walked past this place for weeks in the snow, wondering how a forlorn little Eiscafe with no sign of life could possibly survive or turn a profit. Head over there on a warm July afternoon and be prepared to queue for your Eis. Flavours are certainly limited, but everything is made on the premises. My verdict: a little on the sweet side. But going by the stream of customers, it would seem I’m outnumbered. At 70c a pop (or cone), no one is missing out.

I scream for Eis

Way back in March as soon as it was warm enough to get one hand out of a glove, Leipzigers were eating eis like they may never see it again. Only weeks earlier it would have been possible to make ice cream by simply putting a bowl of custard on the balcony. Nevetheless, out it came and the craze seems set to stay. Most popular is the classic kugel in a cone, sold by street vendors all over the city for the bargain price of around 80 cents. Also popular are eiscafes, many of which boast their original GDR furniture and shop fittings. Something I find most peculiar is the eis karte (ice cream menu), available at nearly every cafe. One can chose from a variety of “dishes” ranging from the tacky to the truly camp. My favourite is spaghetti eis; ribbons of ice cream “pasta” topped with berry sauce “bolognese” and a dusting of nuts. I’m told it’s seriously good; the absurdity seems lost on most. As a matter of public interest, I’m currently on a search for the best ice cream in Leipzig. I must admit, while they make a nice change from your standard Streets Cornetto, I’m not overly thrilled with the results of my search thus far. As compared to my memory of such as Sydney’s Ice and Slice or Melbourne’s Trampoline the offerings here seem overly sweet and lacking in flavour. An exception to this (and topping my list so far) is the Leipzig-made Grundmann Eis on offer at the Cafe Maitre. As is the way, the flavour options are limited; no blood orange, caramel pear or turkish delight here. But the strawberry, chocolate and vanilla are sensational. No complaints.

No, none at all.

Flying South

Well my friends, I guess I had better come clean and admit my shameful expat secret. I went home!

For the past month, I’ve been in Australia. I guess it was no secret that I and the German winter had had something of a falling out. As morale dropped to critical levels, a little window of relief opened up. A series of fortunate events lead to an offer we couldn’t refuse. Home we flew, like birds, to our southern homeland.

Things I loved:

The long forgotten sensation of bare arms and legs

home grown tomatoes

peaches

magazines in english

copious amounts of BBQ’d steak

nieces and nephews

the colour green

sewing days

watching british murder mystries with my father in law

swimming

free to air Play School

Looking around me, I couldn’t help feeling a little like Alice in Wonderland. “Curiouser and curiouser” seemed to describe the familiar and yet strange world around me. And as we boarded the plane for our return journey, I couldn’t help asking; was I flying home, or away from home?

If you’re of the friends we didn’t get to see while we were home, we’re really very sorry. Our time and energy didn’t stretch nearly as far we we would have wished. To all those we did see, thank you so much for making it such a special and memorable time for us.


About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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