Archive for the 'travels' 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.




Twenty-two hours in Berlin


In all the ups and downs of this week there was a trade off: I made it Strasbourg after all. My lovely friend Floriane agreed to come along and we made it over the Rhine and back just in time for the tooth issue to escalate. Floriane and her husband Mathieu (also a physicist at Max Planck) live directly above us with their beautiful new son Théodore, also called “Dee-door”. Being French, they’ve been known to make trips over the border to stock up on cheese, wine and other much missed delicacies. Flo and I have spent many happy hours laughing over the stranger aspects of German life, comparing our hometowns on Google Earth and shrugging our shoulders over the world of condensed matter physics.

The day of our trip to Strasbourg dawned clear and bright. Flammkuche and Kugelhopf were the order of the day, and having my own personal translator made the whole experience that little bit more authentic. The small Wednesday flea market yielded a few treasures including a traditional kugelhopf basin, now safely in Leipzig. But the find of the day was a beautiful rug for our new living room floor. The seller gave a lengthy and impassioned speech about quality, the evils of Ikea and the unwillingness of customers to pay a modest price for an authentic item. I was completely convinced by this tirade (as translated by Floriane), much to her amusement. I immediately handed over my cash and the rug was promptly loaded onto a pram. Strasbourg is incredibly beautiful, with a stunning cathedral and Alsatian architecture. Its buildings seem to tell the very story of its strange French/German history. Théodore and Rose expressed their mutual fatigue and displeasure with vigor on our return journey, but somehow we made it home with two prams, plenty of cheese and one very authentic rug. C’est Bon!

Road tripping

Everyone hates moving house; it’s universally acknowledged as awful. The endless hours of trawling through ads, the frustrating phone calls to agents, the visits to prospective homes (mentally superimposing one’s belongings) to say nothing of the packing, lifting, cleaning, traveling, lifting and unpacking. I’ve moved plenty of times before, but this time it’s very different. In a few weeks we’ll be leaving Stuttgart for Leipzig. The two cities are about as different as German cities come. On Monday we braved the autobahn and the five hundred kilometer distance in order to find a place to live. On Wedneday night we collapsed into bed around 1am, utterly exhausted.

So what makes this move so very different? First, there’s the language. Leipzig is (by all accounts) a challenging city for a non-German speaker. I could only listen in wonder as Tony bravely made phone call after terrifying phone call, stretching his limited (though rather impressive) German vocabulary as far as possible. Then there are the subtle differences of culture; Germany’s apartments generally come without light fittings, window coverings or indeed, kitchens. It’s no longer a mystery to me that Ikea sells kitchens in exactly the same way as they sell photo frames or coathangers. But aside from these challenges, there is much I’m looking forward to. Leipzig is a fascinating city. I’m eager to know it’s culture and history as well as I now know its hallways, staircases, balconies, bathrooms and (empty) kitchens. It promises to be an adventure.


Road journal by mamaroots

Atlas Bangle Bracelet

Atlas bangle bracelet by soitsgray

On the Road

“On the Road” by slgdesigns

Happy Trails - Tiny Retro Ice Cube Trailer  Rubber Stamp

Happy Trails – tiny retro ice cube trailer rubber stamp by Corabelle

5x7 Germany wc travel journal - Leipzig

Leipzig travel journal by spacedogstudios

Elderflower Cordial

Forgive me, but I’m still dreaming of England…

Elderflower Cordial

3L boiling water
900g granulated sugar
50g citric acid
2 lemons, sliced
25-30 elderflower heads

Pour the boiling water over the sugar, stir and leave to cool. Add the citric acid and lemon slices, and stir in the rinsed elderflower heads. Cover with a tea towel and stir occasionally over the next 24 hours. Strain through muslin and pour into sterilised glass jars.

Recipe from the July Country Living.

Bosham Church Fete

On Saturday, Keren and I were unsure how to spend our last afternoon together in England. We decided on Bosham Church Fete, and if I was in pursuit of a quintessentially English experience to take home and treasure in weeks to come, I was not disappointed. I thought fetes like this occurred only in BBC period dramas, or on the pages of Country Living. I was wrong. Tea, jam, books, plants, large straw hats, long floral skirts, ice cream, Pimms, Oxford shirts, boat shoes and an octogenarian band; it was all I could do not to gape openly at the scene before me. I had high hopes (when making the commitment) that there would be bunting. I needn’t have worried.

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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