It’s Christmas! Ching ching!!

Yesterday, we found ourselves surrounded by German shoppers. Not surprising really, since we live in Germany.

Though despite having lived here for, what? 12 years? I still find shopping with the Germans, as opposed to with the British, a truly shocking experience. They shop, but at most, they only ever seem to carry one bag. And most of them don’t have any bag at all other than their handbag.

You could be lulled into the belief that those bustling High Streets and shopping centres are filled with many browsers who use the shops to find their purchase, but then take out their smart phones or go home to their laptops and search out the very best deal for the exact same product online.

But those High Street stores are clearly thriving. So my true belief is that everyone here (except for me, of course) has a Mary Poppins Bag or perhaps even a Mary Poppins Pocket.

But yesterday, we weren’t Hight Street shopping, we were food shopping, in our local supermarket.

All our fellow shoppers stood there, with their little shopping baskets two days before Christmas. Easily convincing anyone that every checkout could support the sign ‘Express Checkout: 12 items or less’ (but does not, because of course, that checkout is just not necessary here).

Simultaneously we stood there, smilingly queueing with our two precariously balanced shopping trolleys.

We caused quite a commotion. Two boys behind us watched our mounting food bill on the electronic display. Passing the 100 Euro figure caused them to release some, quite loud, exclamations. Then as we approached the 200 Euro total, their gasps and gulps flourished.

Excitement reached an almost hysterical level as we neared the 300 mark (sorry, I mean Euro). Squeals of “Will it make the 300?” along with bulging eyes and anticipating jumps reminded me of a dedicated gambler longing to see his horse win the race and I smiled. Because I knew we’d hit 300. Just.

The air was so electrical, I half expected a bouncy store manager to run out, bearing bouquets, bubbly and other extravagant gifts. Overflowing with kisses and hugs and handshakes and thanks for being the store’s best ever shoppers.

But there was no music. No fizz. And no rigorous handshake.

Though we did see the manager briefly. We questioned him as to why we couldn’t use the 110 Euros worth of vouchers we’d been collecting all year. Apparently we could only use a maximum of a 20 Euro voucher at a time. Which does make sense. Express checkout mentality considered.

I know. Over 300 Euros on food. But in my defence we are six people. It is Christmas. The shops are closed for two and a half days and then again on Sunday. I like to cook. A lot. The children like to eat. A lot. And at the end of the day, despite having lived here for a quarter of my life, I am British. I know exactly how to panic buy.

Wishing all of my fellow bloggers, my friends and everyone who has a Mary Poppins Bag a truly wonderful Christmas.


Bandaged from the shower

Now, I’m not completely repulsive. Please bear that in mind when you read the next line.

Today, I finally managed to have a shower.

I’d bathed on Sunday in an attempt to curb the swelling.

That had not worked.

Then I was bandaged up by the emergency doctor.

My bandages were changed three times a day by people with varying bandaging techniques.

And on each change, no one mentioned the elephant in the room. The distinct odour hovering around my body parts.

As I said,  I’m not a complete minger. (Scots to English translation: totally disgusting person, sorry, I just couldn’t find a better word). I had scraped around with the flannel at every opportunity. I had doused myself in deodorant. Seriously. There were children choking. But neither can compare with a hot shower pounding against your skin.

No one refers to it. When you’re being bandaged up. The doctors don’t tell you how to climb in the bath without the use of your feet. Neither do they blow the whistle on how you conjure up super-powers, and stand up long enough to take a shower, when you can hardly stagger from the sofa to the loo.

In plain simple English: you are left to stink.

So, my wound being closed now (although I still have to adorn my legs with bright yellow antiseptic three times daily until Sunday, and I’m still going around with mummy legs), and my ability to stand up having immensely improved, I stepped into the most delicious shower and attempted to soap myself with my ‘new’ Naomi Campbell body lotion.

I say new, the bottle was in truth, part of a gift given to me for my birthday two years ago, by my son. He’d charmed the shop assistant while buying the perfume and had been given it for free.

I know all of this because he was so pleased with himself, he’d felt the need to give a full and frank account of the whole shopping experience.

I will admit that part of his character does come from my side.

I do exactly the same to my husband.

“I got you this present! And it’s especially cool because I got it for half price!”

I’m always more impressed in a gift that’s been a right old bargain. But my husband? He seems, somehow, less dazzled?!?

It took me some time to start using the Naomi Campbell body lotion because I’m often given shower and bath commodities as presents. I assure myself it’s because I have quite a lot of these bandaged up incidents. On top of that, if I’m honest, I’m not Naomi Campbell’s biggest fan.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think she’s pretty. In actual fact, I would say she’s one of the prettiest models I know of. Not that I know of many, as I’m not particularly interested in models. Quite probably because I have a serious deficit in the facial recognition area of my brain. I once watched the best part of a film, completely confused because I couldn’t tell Leo Dicaprio apart from Jason Bourne. I thought that only one of them was in it and the plot, thus, made no sense whatsoever.

But his bloody name isn’t Jason Bourne is it? *off to check Wikipedia* Matt Damon, that’s it.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Naomi.

In all truth, I went off her when she found herself unable to decide between wearing and not wearing fur. And her subsequent behaviour hasn’t helped her case.

So, should I have been the purchaser, I would have wandered off to another shelf and not even taken a whiff of the perfume that had her name sprawled all over it.

But the perfume was bought by my son. At a reduced price, he’d excitedly informed me. And then to top that, this tube of body lotion happened to be thrown in for free.

*Truth be told, the perfume actually smells quite nice and my son’s always pleased when I wear ‘his’ scent.*

This morning during my delicious shower I washed and conditioned my hair. Then squeezed some of the content of the Naomi Campbell tube onto my normally very effective bath lily and attempted to lather it up.

My first thought was, “This is one really crap shower gel!”

My second thought was, “It’s more like a body lotion than a shower gel.”

Then some kind of bell clanged in my head.

I removed the bottle from the shelf, held it two centimeters from my nose, as is needed without the use of artificial lenses, and deciphered B O D Y  L O T I O N.

Luckily my face couldn’t turn any pinker and even if it could have, no one could have seen it through all the steam anyway.

Time for some w(h)ine(ing)

I really, really need to have a grump.

I thought about popping into that Thai massage parlour I am driving past on a daily basis at the moment. It has an anti-stress massage advertisement in the window: Head, neck and shoulders for just 29€.

The place looks a little seedy. And I felt kind of concerned in case I was offered more than I bargained for. But my husband has assured me, here, in Germany, the brothels are well signposted, flashing their red love hearts all over town.

Of course, I’ve seen them.

As have the children who were mightily disappointed when I told them it’s a place you go to pay for sex not some romantic place of lurve.

And 29€ may be a special offer, but it’s still 29€ and WordPress, on the other hand, is free.

Plus, in the last couple of weeks I’ve spent enough money to finance a luxury cruise.

For two.

Dear Husband,

If we didn’t have kids we really could be floating off right now… Instead of buying new shoes, coughing up for haircuts, bankrolling the replacement of a full forest worth of necessary books, splashing out on bus passes, not to mention the half a weeks wages we had to invest on a pair of children’s glasses…

Dear Mr Optician,

I did not appreciate you trying to guilt trip me into buying a second pair of glasses for my child. I definitely did not appreciate you telling my daughter her current glasses are old-fashioned and need to be replaced. Are you trying to knock her self-esteem? She likes her glasses. She does not want to change them. She only needs a replacement lens. And you made more than enough money out of that, charging me 41€ for the privilege. Your glasses are well-over-priced. I have British TV and I happen to know that Boots are selling two pairs for £79. You wouldn’t even give me half a pair for that! Anyway, today I found a cheaper optician than you in the shopping centre. So stick that in your pipe…

Dear Baker at the Department Store,

I am very sorry that my four-year-old stole half of your cream cake with her hair. I hope I didn’t offend you, helping myself to your serviettes, but really, the cream was weighing her head down. And I couldn’t let her walk around like that. She already had chocolate smeared all over her face…

Dear Arrogant Chemist Bitch Woman,

I know that you said you would call me when the prescription was ready. I know because the prescription was urgent, and as I told you, it’s bad enough having had to drive back and forth to the hospital every day for the past ten weeks without having to drive back and forth to your bloody chemist too…

Dear New Teacher,

In his defence, I do think my son’s intentions were good, picking up that little kid by his coat. While he was dangling him, my son just wanted to let him know that it’s not nice to hit other kids. Unfortunately the little shit the youngster did not seem to comprehend as he just ran off and thumped someone else…

Dear Dust,

Please pay rent!!

Dear Family,

My son has been back and forward to the hospital every day (bar weekends) for the past ten weeks and not one of you has called to see how he is…

Dear Bloggers,

I am sorry, I am very behind on my reading. I’ve been so busy running backwards and forwards, scowling at discussing the merits of good service with chemists, cleaning up vomit, therapizing pubescent teens, running around shopping centres begging for ice to inhibit a black eye, explaining the black eye, complaining about the cost of books, guestimating the weather, badly – sweating in excessive clothing, or shivering in short sleeves, blocking toilets…

Dear Toilet Cleaner,

I am a little bit sorry that my daughter and I ran off leaving the loo in that state. We went with the ‘save water – share a flush’ plan. And it backfired. Miserably. We didn’t stuff the loo with anything untoward. Honestly. OK, we did, perhaps, I suspect, I confess, use more than the average amount of toilet tissue. What with periods and poos. And several wipes of the seat on the loo. I am normally a responsible parent. That time the little one removed all the price tags in the cheese section of the supermarket’s fridge, I handed them right over to the unsuspecting assistant, did an about turn and left her to get on with her job.
No, I did not leave you a tip, but to be honest, your services weren’t really fully-functioning, were they?

Dear Sore Throat, Migraine and Period,

Kindly, piss off…

Dear Santa,

I thought I’d get my list in early this year. I’ve tried to be good. Honest.

With optimism:

  • 1 – 2 Weekends away with husband but without children
  • 1 x Reasonably large Unreasonably large lottery win
  • 1 x New, improved memory
  • 1 x Large dose of patience
  • 1 x Small, painless op to remove all traces of menstruation
  • 1 x 5 x Extra hours in the day
  • Wine, a lot of wine

And I know I’m pushing it, but

  • 1 x unripped sofa

Dear Psychiatrist,

Tuesday? 9am?

I am not always good

Yesterday, I found myself shocked.

In disbelief.

I needed a few bits from the supermarket. (How can ‘a few bits’ come to 54 Euro’s?) We pulled up at one on the way home and, as usual, four-year-old Akasha needed to nip to the loo. (Perhaps you can feel my exasperation, we hadn’t even grabbed a trolley yet.)

I found the toilet door in record time (I am becoming a pro).

I saw a notice on the door, but I ignored it, (being in German and that requiring effort on my part, and it being evening and me trying to remember which few bits were actually required). I pulled on the door but it didn’t open, leaving me looking like a complete fool person with an enquiring mind.

I read the note. OK, if I’m honest, I picked out the most important looking words and got the gist that I had to go to the cashier and ask for the key.

We walked, well, I walked normally and the little one did a John Cleese impression in an attempt at holding together her four-year-old bladder.

Feeling some urgency tugging at my arm, I interrupted the checkout assistant and asked her politely for the key. She informed me that I would need to give her a deposit.

I opened my bag, a little surprised, thinking a Euro should do.

Only to hear her say, “Your car keys or your mobile phone will suffice.”


She repeated her request.

I repeated her request back again. Just to make sure I’d understood. The little one squirmed.

You may or may not be proud of me:

I did not call trading standards.

I did not squeal and laugh hysterically and look for Candid Camera.

I did not start a rational debate on why I should trust her with my phone/contact details/sim card or my car keys when she/her boss evidently, did not trust me with a roll of toilet paper.

I did not ask to see the manager.

I did not give her my keys.

I did not give her my mobile phone.

I did shake my head a lot in disbelief.

I did inform her (and anyone else listening) that I would prefer to shop elsewhere.

I did leave the shop with a husband and four children in tow. One doing some weird-looking yoga positions.

I did whip down the pants of my four-year-old right in front of the shop and ordered her to pee “there, right there.”

And she did let loose onto the stones.

Would you trust your car keys/mobile phone to a stranger in order to use the toilet?

The party – not

It all started with the bloody salad.

I asked Joni what she wanted to do for her 16th birthday and she informed me that she’d like a big party. Not just with her friends, but also with mine. My friends are pretty cool, I learned. I had suspected exactly that fact myself, to be honest.

When we totted up the numbers and guestimated how many people would actually attend, we figured between 45 and 50.


I’ve learned since living in Germany, that it’s always best to plan for the higher number of guests. Besides, I freak out about there not being enough to eat at every single event we host. My approach nowadays is to go with the motto ‘more is good’.

Now, cooking for 50 is not the simplest task, so we opted for a barbecue and salad. That also fitted well with Joni’s interpretation of a ‘chilled’ party.

So the perfect plan evolved:

  • Guests to arrive at a time suited to them, but after 3pm
  • Pavilions in the garden to protect from sun/rain
  • Coffee/hot chocolate/cake in the afternoon
  • Salad/BBQ in the early evening
  • Karaoke in the later evening, with dried snacks and leftover cake

What could go wrong?

It started with the bloody salad.

A few days before the party, as I listed down recipes of cous cous salad and mozzarella salad, as I entertained images of luscious salad leaves and dipping cucumber in hummus, the news transmitted: E.coli had broken out in Northern Germany and we shouldn’t trust leaves or tomatoes or cucumbers.

Leaves, tomatoes and cucumbers were in every single recipe I’d listed. All those lovely recipes which could be made on the morning of the party and then just sit in the fridge, awaiting consumption.

I tore up my list and stared at a blank page. I sent out alarm calls on Facebook.

Then the news said, “Stop! Wait!”

“Perhaps it isn’t the fault of the rosy red tomato, the crunchy, crisp cucumber or the satisfying, luscious salad leaves. No. Perhaps the fault is actually that of another raw vegetable. But sorry, we’re at a loss as to which one. Perhaps you should still avoid the lettuce and the cucumber and the tomato. Because we don’t really know and people are dying.”

The panic rose in me slightly.

Should I give my guests a bunch of frozen vegetables?

Should I just pop a multi-vitamin tablet in a little schnapps glass and be done with the whole sorry situation?

For a while, I focused on potato salad. After all, the potatoes would be cooked, wouldn’t they? But to be honest, I felt very nervous. Potato salad is a traditional dish here. And I’ve only ever made it a few times. And never perfectly. Everyone, in these here parts, has an opinion on how the perfect potato salad should taste and what consistency it should have. And my husbands opinion is one of the loudest. I felt very anxious about doing it wrong. Friends encouraged me. But my husband looked a little scared at the prospect and told me, in the nicest possible way,  how it’s “a lot of work” and “so difficult to get right” and that I “don’t have the correct potatoes” (I did fight back – we didn’t have any potatoes, I would have to buy the correct potatoes, naturally). But I ‘got’ his mistrust of my cooking gentle concern. So, I opted out of the potato salad choice.

My anxiety rose as the days went by and then, two days before the party, we attended someone else’s birthday celebration.

My friend had also found herself faced with exactly the same problem and had solved it by offering watermelon and freshly picked strawberries from a local strawberry field.

Aha! I thought. Aha!

A new list started. I decided we could also barbecue vegetables like peppers, courgettes, aubergines and corn.

Now, you may have thought that, considering that I had spent my previous days philosophising about the safety of vegetables, attending parties (we also attended another party earlier that week), doing challenges from my 101 list, as well as the normal stuff like yelling around about homework and taking children to the doctors, that I would have, at this point, felt some blind panic about the state of the house (apparently I have forgotten how to do housework) and the work that I had to do to get my house in order.

But no. Instead of obsessing about the disarray my house was in, what I actually did was focus on the weather. Yes. The weather. Because at the beginning of the week we had heat and glorious sunshine, but the forecast for the end of the week looked decidedly uncertain. The idea of rain was entertained, then a few days later the proposition of a storm was offered.

Pavilions do protect against slight rain, as in, drizzle. But I can tell you, they will be blown away in a storm, offering no protection whatsoever to the windswept guest, sitting at the collapsible table underneath.

And although my living room is a nice size, with furniture and 50 guests the saying ‘sardines in a tin’ came fretfully to mind. Certainly, there would be no space for dancing to accompany the wailing harmonies on the karaoke mike. No. And I have to tell you, my feet can’t stay still when I hear a musical beat (except that lift music – then I just hold my hands over my ears and scream “Please, oh please switch it off!”). Which would therefore mean that Joni’s guests would not only have been squashed, but they would have been bruised and battered, too.

As I previously said, you may have thought I would have been cleaning the house for days on end before the ascendation of so many guests. But actually, I wasn’t. And when I wasn’t staring at blank recipe lists, swearing at Facebook or studying meteorology, I could be found planting things in the garden. I have to tell you that through the 101 challenges, I am starting to really ‘dig’ my garden. Pardon the pun.

My husband, lovely as he is, excused my behaviour. He told me, “There’s no point in cleaning anyway, they’ll,” a finger pointed towards those pesky precious kids, “just mess it up again!”

Anyway, I thought to myself, “We’ll have all of Friday to clean and some of Saturday, too…

… Although we’ll have to put up the pavilions as well, decorate, bake cakes and go to the florist. Joni, herself, has drama rehearsals so can’t really help, and Lori’s off on a school project… But there will still be time to go strawberry picking, shopping for all of the party food and drink, make up the guest room and prepare the veg. My husband has the Friday off . All will be well…”

Looking back I wonder if I was in some dazed, exhausted state, too tired to actually be fazed by the whole thing.

Friday morning arrived and Aden, my adorable son, thoughtfully reminded me that today is the day the classes are presenting their projects. Song, dance and artwork were to be celebrated and he expected us both to be there. Proud parents. He’d given himself the role of security guard in his classroom, so that none of his playmobil figures “would be nicked!”

Of course, I had forgotten, just like I’d forgotten to collect and take the arty objects for the project to school the week before.

Damn my memory!

“Yes, we’ll come. Of course, we’ll be there.”

And we were. And the whole morning was gone. Sunk. Lost. As far as party preparations were concerned.

We ate lunch together. The four of us. The two little ones, my husband and I. And I must admit that I felt somewhat twitchy. The two older girls wouldn’t be home for hours yet and on arrival, the party girl herself would have to go into study mode as she had an exam on the Monday, plus homework to do, no doubt. My two most valuable workers were currently unavailable, but my two demolishers little ones were 100% present and correct.

I perused my list and decided that the first job should be picking strawberries. The small ones could help and after that we could then head on to the florist with the little vases I’d bought in the One-Euro shop. I wanted the florist to prepare a simple centrepiece for each of the three collapsible tables.

I borrowed money from the children, having realised I had none left of my own and we set off with a large white bowl, but without the three small white vases.

The strawberry field looked empty, but ever the optimist, I insisted that we all leave the car and then my son spotted the notice ‘Closed until Saturday’. Apparently the strawberries needed to ripen somewhat.

My heart pounded. Another job for Saturday. OK.

Florist. Not OK. No vases.

So we drove home to my husbands unnecessarily cheery, “You were quick!” and picked up the vases.

It seems to me, that there happens to be a direct correlation between having to be somewhere with a matter of some urgency and something happening, like, for example, getting stuck behind a tractor or in this case me being unable to park my car.

I drove in and out of the space, probably thirty times, stopping for passing traffic and hanging around until ‘waiters’ finally realised I wasn’t relinquishing my space, just practising driving backwards and forwards into it.

Probably, I’m now on one of those ‘women parking’ videos on youtube.

The flowers looked lovely, but I’ll be honest and tell you they’d all withered somewhat by the next day, as, true to form, I’d forgotten to put water in the base of the vases.

My husband had started making a banoffee pie, but I still had to start my baking as I needed a small amount of one specific flour type from the supermarket. Had I been more organised, I could have actually baked the dough a few days in advance, as advised in the recipe.

My husband took a cooking break and we headed off to the supermarket, with a comprehensive list and two tearaways. Then the battle really commenced as we propelled our way around the aisles with not one but two trolleys.

Every two minutes the battle cry could be heard, “No, you’re not having that, we’re buying for the party!!!”

We strove towards enemy lines (in the form of the checkout) and at around that point my mobile rang.

My sweet sixteen year old, was not her usual calm, chilled self, rather she would be better described as near hysterical.

Her younger sister Lori, had called home and decided that she did not want to take two buses to go home, and thought it a great idea to walk. Alone. Through the forest. At 6.30pm.

I told Joni to call her straight back. It turned out she’d forgotten her mobile and used a teacher’s. The teacher, on hearing the news, of course, panicked too, and asked Joni to contact her as soon as Lori had been located.

Meanwhile, I abandoned my husband and the shopping and raced out of the supermarket, which is in fact about 200m from the school.

The little one, who is apparently suffering from some sort of abandonment disorder presently, decreed that her presence would also be required in looking for her elder sister. I raced hobbled to the school, with a four-year-old draped around my leg and of course, missed the unafraid one.

The following few minutes went something like this:

I said “bugger” and “shit” quite a few times and dragged a four-year-old through the various streets around the school. I approached more inhibited children and asked them if they knew/had seen/had any knowledge of the whereabouts of my child. I lost a kilo with the attempted running, weightlifting and the cardio workout the panic initiated. People looked at me like I was rather odd.

Realising I had no chance of catching her up, what with a now crabbit small person glued to me, and my minor detour around the school grounds, I stumbled towards the car, where the family united in throwing all newly purchased goods into the boot at high speed.

We also united in forgetting that we had intended to visit the other neighbouring supermarket, as not all of the items on my comprehensive list had been available.

We finally found the brave one obliviously wandering along the path leading home, having walked through the forest completely alone.

She was unfazed. I ranted somewhat. She suddenly decided she would not do it again.

We pulled up at the house and I remembered: the rest of the shopping…

I decided, what with all the drama, I’d leave it to Saturday.

The man of the house finished his pie, then promptly nodded off, so I sent him off to bed and finally started on my intricate little cakes. It was 8pm.

I read the recipe. And reread it again,  but I could not find the instructions on how to make the dough. I found this a little strange because the measurements were so exact: 227g of flour, for instance. Why would there be no instructions on how to make the dough on such a precise recipe? After the sixth read-through, I abandoned all hope and just threw all of the ingredients into a bowl and attempted to mix. When this approach didn’t work out so well, I got dirty and used my hands.

The consistency however, was still not right so I thought, “What the hell!” and piled in the odd tablespoon of flour. Or two.

Still too difficult to work with, I decided to chill it in the fridge. Finally cold and a bit more stable, I popped little balls of dough into a form, then pressed them out to make the correct shape.

The recipe dictated, I should leave them in the freezer for around ten minutes, to help them keep their shape and stop them rising so much. Joni needed to make space, so she took several food items out of the freezer and we replaced them with the baking trays. “Not to worry!” I informed her, “We’ll pop them right back in shortly.”

I shouldn’t say, “Don’t worry!” It’s like I’m setting myself up for a fall. Because, hours later, I noticed that the silly helpful girl had not replaced a tub of ice cream (I couldn’t even polish off the slushy remains because I’d found myself in the impossible situation of having to test mountains of dough).

The more I tasted, the more I thought, that the pastries just didn’t taste right, so I picked up the recipe and glanced through it again.

And there, plain as the nose on my face, were full and clear instructions on how to make the dough.

So I rammed the little crumbly things into a Tupperware, cleaned the baking trays and started the whole process. All. Over. A-gain.


  • Weighed out each ingredient precisely
  • Drank an espresso
  • Mixed the dough as per the recipe
  • Opened a bottle of coke
  • Glugged down some of the coke
  • Made little balls and pushed them into shape in the form
  • Thought about vodka
  • Took several expensive products out of the freezer
  • Popped the trays into the freezer
  • Staggered around in the vicinity of the espresso machine
  • Popped the trays into the oven
  • Listened for the beep with intermittent slurps and burps
  • Pricked the little doughs and cooked them for a final time
  • Answered the telephone to an uncontacted, frantic teacher
  • Calmed the teacher and apologised
  • Thought of vodka again
  • Took the trays out of the oven and left them to cool, so the pastries would stay intact
  • Sat on the sofa for a little rest
  • Slept for two hours on the sofa
  • Carefully took the little pastries out of the forms
  • Tested the little pastries
  • ‘Accidentally’ broke some of the little pastries, so was forced to eat them to hide the evidence
  • Started cleaning the kitchen where I discovered defrosted, inedible, expensive products
  • Swore
  • A lot
  • Disposed of defrosted, inedible, expensive products

I headed to bed and instructed the alarm clock, then showing 3.10am to wake me at 8am.

I lay there thinking of strawberry fields and shopping and pavilions and how to get away with minimal cleaning.

A voice penetrated my dreams, “Mum, mum, it’s Joni! She feels sick.”

I couldn’t find my legs, let alone move them so I slapped at my husband and said, “Joni feels sick.”

He staggered, a person drunk on sleep, to her room and checked her over and handed her a bowl. Then thudded back into bed. It was 4.15am.

At 4.30 the voice intruded again. “She’s being sick.”

Still, my legs evaded me and I sent the man again.

Slowly, a guilty feeling flowed over me, forcing me awake and I rose and lumbered into the bedroom.

The poor child wretched and filled the bowl. My husband sent me back to bed.

But I couldn’t sleep. I thought of party guests and cake and strawberry fields. Putting up pavilions, and shopping or not?

And I thought of E.coli and sickness and bloody diarrhoea.

And I tossed and I turned and then the clock beeped 8am.

By midday, most of the guests had been contacted and informed about the cancellation. We had problems getting in touch with one as she’d moved house, but we got her eventually. An hour before the party should have started.

Joni did not have E.coli. In fact, the very next morning, after a plate of scrambled egg and a piece of toast, she made a complete and full recovery.

I, eventually, celebrated the fact that I hadn’t picked enough strawberries for 50 people, had made space in the freezer for the barbecue meat, could freeze the little cakes in preparation for the next party and had avoided the housework, once again.

Another challenge coming together

I am excited.

Very excited.

After much searching/trawling/scrutinizing of the internet, I have not only found, but also booked a mini-break for Lori and I.

Joni and I went to Paris. City of culture, in 2009. We marched through the metropolis. Filled ourselves with French food. And said “Hello” to a mouse in a ‘good’ restaurant.

We braved the Eiffel tower in a thunder storm. Were followed by an indecently, ‘playful’ man through le métro tunnels. Walked past le Louvre and waved. Deciding le Louvre is just too much for a three day trip. So we headed to le Petit Palais instead. And of course, being girls we were magnetically drawn to l’avenue des Champs-Élysées. Being not such conventional girls, we spent most of our time there in car shops. And eating. And taking pictures of random things like motorbikes.

Our bonding trip truly worked. It brought us together. Mother and daughter. Through pubescent angst. And we have stayed together ever since.

Joni needed culture.

Lori needs to relax.

So our trip is to a spa.

I think, actually, I am more excited than she is!

Two nights away in a forest get-a-way. Being pampered. Eating cake. Relaxing in and by the pool.

And most importantly for Lori: attention for 48 whole hours from one parent, with no interruption via other siblings.


Eurovision week: the challenge strides on

We’re having a wild week here. Tears. Tantrums (mostly mine). Birthdays. Planning Eurovision parties. Not having flags for said party made. The house is, quite frankly, in chaos (though the towels do look nice in that cupboard). Tummy upsets. Heat wave. Either that or the thermometer’s broken. Did we really hit 32ºC? Smashed glass. Again. Doctors. Nose bleeds. Dying fish. Vomit. Play rehearsals. Tests.

I have been searching everywhere for European drinks. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic. On Tuesday I drove around looking for a Getränkemarkt. A large drink shop. I drove around in my usual way. Taking wrong turnings and exasperating the kids. Anyway, my random driving led me to pass by a store with the name ‘Glöbel Getränkemarkt’. I’ve hit the jackpot, I assumed (easily convincing myself that that must mean ‘Global drinks store’) and entered the shop, filled with the hope of a true optimist.

Just to let you know, I decided a while ago that our Eurovision party should include food and drink from various different European countries. But, I have been having problems making that dream a reality. Having visited several supermarkets, I’ve discovered that nearly all drinks are made in Germany.

(Sorry for the brief interruption, but I just had to run out and bring the washing in, I had put the loud bang I had previously heard down to sonic boom, but the second one made me instead suspicious that a predicted thunderstorm may well be on its way. Anyway, outside, I heard another noise and saw the neighbour hoovering his garden. Sorry, but what kind of mentaller, hoovers their garden? I suspect when they direct people to their home they explain, “Walk past the neighbours from hell’s house, yeah, the one with cobwebs on the fly nets and toys spilling over the lawn (ours) and on to the pristine house, with polished steps and hoovered walls (theirs).”)

Where was I? Ah, yes, drinks. So, filled with excitement, I entered the store to find German beer, German wine, and German juice. After scanning every single bottle in the massive assortment, I finally found an Austrian wine, a Portuguese wine, an Italian wine, Orangina (which I know is originally French, but was produced, so it seems here in Germany, some Russian Berry juice apparently prepared here also by Schweppes (but at least it says ‘Russian’ on the label) and some French Hello Kitty fizzy stuff. It seems to actually be French. I also found a six-pack of Guinness and Heineken. Phew. And that was it. No other European anything at all.

On my return home I complained to my husband about the lack of globalness in the Global drink shop. He had no idea where I’d been, so I fished out the receipt, which highlighted the name Göbel. Ah, so a name, nothing actually stating Global at all then. 😳

These are the types of things that happen when one errs to optimism.

My husband analysed my purchases with a big grin upon his face. Apparently the Austrian wine is from Salzberg, not Salzburg and is actually, well, German. And the Portuguese wine states on the back, ‘German Quality wine’?!?

I’ve decided to dole out the Italian wine, the French bubbly (I found in another shop) and the Guinness first. Then hope that all the guests are so pissed, they’ll not notice that the Portuguese wine is not actually from Portugal at all and when we finally hit the ‘Austrian’, they won’t be able to see the little misplaced ‘e’.

Perhaps, by that time, I can even coerce them into making the still unprepared flags…

Also this week:

I planted a lovely bush in the garden with my friend, Gabi, on Monday. It’s still alive! Probably due to her green fingered influence. I have dutifully watered it every day. So far. Another friend, Frauke, gave an inspired me a couple of cuttings on Tuesday. I planted them as instructed and full of that bloody optimism. But in the spirit of truthfulness, they don’t look so happy. Sorry plants. Sorry Frauke. I keep soaking them with water as I do the small tree that hasn’t grown a leaf in two years. That and sending happy thoughts.

In fact, I’ve been so motivated by all of the outdoor planting, I decided to re-pot some of the houseplants. I believe they are very grateful. Well, they no longer seem to keep throwing themselves on the floor as I walk by, in a suicidal fashion.

And I tried out two new delicious recipes: lemon chicken and tomato, mozzarella and red pesto salad.

Don’t forget to check out how The Laughing Housewife and Perfecting Motherhood are doing with their challenges!

My tasks

You may well have read about my new cupboard, and if so then you’ll be aware that the tasks are going well. Beam beam.

It has become obvious throughout our search, that I am an optimist. I mean, I knew it before, but cupboard buying, just really slapped me in the face with the information. Every single cupboard I approached was too big. Some by as much as 40cm which meant I was actually estimating the space at home at one and a half times its actual size. Hubby (a pessimist) on the other hand, was almost right, but erred on a little too small. Of course, each time he pointed out a possibility to me, I thought that’s tiny (which is why we had to take a tape measure everywhere we went).

I’ve started my first German novel. One I had been given as a gift some time ago. I misread the opening paragraph as something like ‘…he butchered his sister… and went to a prostitute…’ So I threw down the dictionary and asked hubby what on earth was what. Actually, the lead character had smashed open his piggy bank and then gone on to a prostitute. At least I got the prostitute bit right. So I picked up the dictionary again and am presently on page twelve. I did stop for a moment to wonder though, why my friends are giving me books about prostitutes…

I also watched a film: The Kid, which was horrible, but good, if you know what I mean.

You may have noticed a new list on the right hand side of my page. I’ve listed all the bloggers who are currently taking part in the challenge, with a direct link to their task lists, that way you can check how they’re doing any time you like and offer them encouragement. We are three at the moment, but I have had serious interest from at least another three bloggers.

The blog count, including this now sits at 23/303. Good going for me!!

Congratulations in order

Time for a little excitement. For you to clap your hands and sing hallelujah!!

Yesterday, we found it:

“That cupboard of impossible proportions that will take all of those towels and bedding and fit in the tiny space at the top of the stairs (this task may jeopardise the whole challenge)” (from 101 in 1001)

And we built it.

And it fits. 😀

And it looks great.

Now the bedding has a place to live. It will no longer just hang out on the chair.

That’s right.

And the days are gone, whereby, I’m dodging nosy neighbours eyes as I dart through the house, naked, on my mission, to search for and rescue a towel.

OK. OK. I knew where they were. In the washroom. On top of the washing machine. Un-homed. But I like dramatic effect.

And of course, I could have fetched the towel before I got naked. But normally I forget.

So praise be. Clap your hands. Raise a glass. Turn the karaoke on. Because you know what this means, don’t you?

The other 100 challenges are in the bag!