Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Slightly annoyed from Berlin

I've just written an email of complaint suggestions for service improvement to Orla's new school. As in the one she's not even started yet. Yes, I believe in starting off on a good foot! Don't think I haven't been stressing over whether she'll be in negative house points on day 1 though.

We had our appointment at the school uniform shop today. Us and everyone else. You have to collect a number when you arrive and then wait until it's your turn. When it got to us, it turned out that they only have about half of the school uniform in a size that would fit Orla. Now Orla, although small, is not unusually so. I have her GP and Kinderarzt growth charts to prove it. But nonetheless, the school shop doesn't stock her size.

I half-joked "Where are M&S when you need them!" to which I was told by a member of staff that they had previously bought school uniform from there (whether for the shop or for personal use wasn't made clear) and should order some. Now that really annoyed me. Both the school handbook and the uniform order sheet state that the uniform must be ordered through the shop. And given that it's just 4 days before Orla starts, I don't have time to get her uniform from there. If we'd had this appointment even a month ago then we could even have bought it in the UK, tried it, taken it back and exchanged it. And for a lot less money too.

Instead I felt compelled to spend 44 Euros on two skirts that are too big and which I either have to spend more money on to have them professionally adjusted or have to re-sew myself. And for that price she could have had 14 M&S skirts that do fit.

On top of that they seemed to have no navy shorts for sport left for her to even try. I was told just to go and buy some plain navy ones from somewhere else. Unless you live in Germany, you probably don't realise that this is mission impossible. Germany doesn't believe in stock replenishment (I may have mentioned my horror at this in earlier posts) and now the shops are empty of anything summery and are currently in the midst of selling fleeces, rainwear, and tights (for boys). They don't even have schoolwear as the German schools are already all back from the summer break. Handy, huh? So far I have checked 3 stores, and frankly, I had better plans for how to spend my last few days with Orla before she starts school than scouring Berlin for shorts.

There were a few other things that annoyed me like the fact that they couldn't have decided what house Orla will be in before school starts, which means I need to beg Stevie for a loan of the car just to get out there to buy a coloured t-shirt, but hey, I hate to moan....:-)

Monday, 29 August 2011

How to prepare a hearty meal...

Mostly I go food shopping on a Friday evening to one of the big supermarkets where I can get pretty much everything I need. If I want fish I usually go to the market, and if I run out of something and need it desperately for the dinner I am making I tend to dash round the corner to Nah und gut.

I've never been able to work out what Nah and gut's criteria is for product selection is. It's always struck me as a wee bit odd. But I suppose I've never really thought about it that hard. I go in, spot Hob Nobs and just think 'oh, that's a funny one-off product to have in. I wonder if that got sent to them in error'. Because Nah und gut's food section often seems like a whole bunch of incongruous stuff that have accidentally been sent to Berlin instead of Burnley and these strange one-off boxes have ended up in Edeka, where the products haven't been able to sell, and have been sent on to Nah und gut as a last resort before it goes into a skip out the back. Because the other thing about it is that products come and go. One week they will have 30 great big bars of Cadbury's Dairy Milk, and then you won't see that again for a month or two; another time it might be really odd looking Russian biscuits; and the next time maybe it will be Rocky Mountain marshmallows (both regular & mini) or Strawberry Fluff.

One time I had been out all day with the kids and got home at 6pm to discover that I didn't have anything in for dinner. So I nipped round to Nah und gut quickly to get something. As I recall, it was a night when Stevie was playing football so generally he likes to have something hearty and full of carbs and protein. Our local Nah und gut stores all their meat and chicken in an ice-cream style freezer (you know the ones with the slidey-tops that you have to lean into?) , and there's never exactly tons to choose from as there is only one shelf. Anyway on this occasion I got there and all they had were 5 little boxes of quails eggs.

Today I went in to pick up something I'd forgotten at the weekend, and as I walked past the meat fridge I peered in. This time they had packs and packs of chicken hearts - CHICKEN HEARTS! What do you even do with chicken hearts?

So I finally did a search on Nah und gut and discovered (I think - from translating the garbled translation that Google kindly provided me with) that Nah und gut try to provide specialist food catering for the tastes of their local community. So the bigger question is, what kind of people am I living amongst??????

(Incidentally, I went on to the BBC Food website where you can enter an ingredient and find recipes. Should you be salivating at the thought of chicken hearts you might fancy one of their suggestions which actually calls for 12 duck hearts: Salad of duck livers and hearts, snails and bacon with a dandelion and apple salad. ) I know I should be more adventurous, but if it's alright with you I'll pass on the duck livers, duck hearts, snails and bacon, and dandelions and just have the apple thanks.

Friday, 26 August 2011

German fashion for October

I was planning on writing a post about my love of the dirndl. And I have done, but it's on my arty blog, 'fiona gray . paints'. So, if you fancy a quick rummage around what the web has to offer dirndl-wise (everything from everyday to wedding day, and C&A to couture) then come on over!

(And then I want you to visualise yourself in the one where she's holding a coffee at the school PTA coffee morning...)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Should I stay or should I go?

I'm feeling a bit uneasy. I'm having to think about the future and important things like what I really want to do, and even more importantly, where I want to be. And I haven't really got a clue.

The trouble you see is that Stevie got offered another job at Rolls-Royce. Which is all well and good, and clever old him, but it was a permanent job. And I have a feeling I might be a bit of a commitment-phobe when it comes to location. Because going permanent would mean staying, and I can't get it out of my head that that means forever, and then I feel a bit funny inside and start thinking about eating that Russian chocolate that I am meant to be sending to my niece.

Of course it doesn't necessarily mean forever, there is always the option of Stevie chucking his job and us moving back to the UK, but at the moment I have a rather lovely option where we have been told we'll be here until June next year and if I wanted to come back sooner all we'd need to do is say, and then me, the kids, Stevie, our belongings would all be back in our old house, living our old life as quick as a flash (well, as long as it's a flash that lasts 12 weeks). And that is an awful comfort to me.

It's not just Berlin that has me location-commitment-phobic: I was also this way in Derby. I always thought it would be temporary and it never really felt like 'home', and then one year would merge into the next and all of a sudden I've lived in 4 houses there, and accumulated 2 children, and a bunch of root-making friends. But when I think of Derby, I still don't see myself as living there for any length of time. And do I really want to go back to my old life?

So what to do? Well, this time I've been let off the hook. Stevie turned it down (because of me being happier on secondment), but sooner or later I will need to decide whether I want to keep living in Berlin for a while longer, or whether I want to return to Derby. I need to write a list of pro's and con's.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Postcards from Germany: Stuttgart & Frankfurt

Andy Warhol artwork in the Mercedes-Benz Museum. They commissioned a series to celebrate 100 years of the automobile but the series never got completed due to Warhol's death.

A personalised bus from somewhere or other. I got whisked out of my audio zone before I could find out. Nice though, huh?

A selection of racing cars all going 'vrrrm' and stuff.

Top: The real Frankfurt. Bottom: Legoland Frankfurt.

Love locks on the Eiserner Steg bridge in Frankfurt.

I know, I know, you would have thought I would have been done with this summer holiday by now. But alas, no. Stick with it dear readers, this episode contains some pertinent information for all new travelers in Germany.

I was left to decide the route of our journey on our way back to Berlin. I'm not much cop at route planning really, and my criteria for where to stop off for the night was based on what places looked nice in miniature at Legoland Deutschland, where do I know people off of the internet, and is there somewhere in Germany that all Stevie's German work colleagues will think is very odd when he tells them it's a holiday destination. And with that as the criteria, you will of course then know instantly that we went to Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, & Stuttgart - though in the opposite order.

"Stuttgart? Why on earth would you want to go to Stuttgart?" - said Stevie's work colleagues and um...most of the people we know. Stuttgart, it turns out, had the living daylights bombed out of it, and thus doesn't have the same sort of appeal in terms of architectural beauty as many of the other places we visited. Unless you are into that whole 'post-war everything looks like it's made of concrete and the whole city centre could well be any town centre in the UK' look. Which really, is utterly perfect for British expats feeling a bit homesick. If that's you, then I would highly recommend a short visit to Stuttgart. A friend who lived in Karlsruhe for many years described it as "the Leicester of Germany", and Stuttgart is quite possibly the "Derby of Germany".

Nonetheless, I chose to go to Stuttgart and for very good reason. For it hosts the extraordinarily fine Mercedes-Benz Museum. And if you turn up at the wrong gate, like we did, you'll get an even stronger feeling that you're in Derby, because it's sprawling Mercedes works take up an awful lot of land and give you the impression that you've slipped back to the Rolls-Royce works, except that in Derby Rolls-Royce haven't built a quite stunning football stadium next to the factory and don't have a rather gorgeous museum building with a completely excellent museum inside.

If there's one reason to go to Stuttgart, it's to visit this museum. It's great. I personally loved the building and could really have enjoyed the audio guide had I not had little hands dragging me out of the audio zones all the time. For me, it was also a special treat to see lots of Andy Warhol paintings and screen prints that Mercedes-Benz had commissioned that I hadn't seen before.

If there are two reasons to visit Stuttgart well there's also the Porsche Museum, but we didn't have time to go there.

And if there are three reasons to visit Stuttgart (and you have kids), well, they have the best outdoor kids swimming pool that I have ever seen or been to. It was completely excellent, and we've been to quite a few and this topped the lot! Lots of pools for kids of different ages, slides and flumes for the bigger teenagers, great playarea for the little ones, little slides and lots of space for the babies and toddlers.

So there you go, Stuttgart's not that bad after all. Really. No honestly, we had a good time. And so we left Stuttgart rather cheerfully really because we were on our way to Wiesbaden. To our untimely deaths (if you listen to my mother, which you don't, which is lucky, because you'd find your phone bills would go up quite significantly). Because, of course, we were on our way to meet Frau Dietz. And I can categorically say that she is not a 50 year old man pretending to be a rather good cook and expat interviewer. She's very lovely and has one of those proper German toilets where you can look at your jobby sitting there looking back at you, and you can analyse it in a very German way and say 'hello there!' to it before you flush it (in a more Scottish way). We were barely through the door before my two lovely children spotted this and made full use of the facilities with a little bit of German analysis and Scottish friendliness thrown in. AND even after that, she took us for ice-cream which pretty much makes her a friend for life. Sadly our visit was all too brief as we had to race to Frankfurt for 5pm to meet the man with the keys to an apartment we were staying in overnight.

So Frankfurt... Frankfurt's another place that German work colleagues think is an odd destination for a holiday. But, honestly, both times I went to Legoland Deutschland I looked at it and thought it was really lovely and mentally marked it as a place I would really like to see while living in Germany. The Altstadt (old town) in Legoland looks so pretty, and though I could have picked somewhere that was a more even distance between Wiesbaden and our final stop, Berlin, well, I didn't, cause it was my route plan and I wanted to see a handful of old buildings even if it did mean the kids had to sit in the car for five torturous hours the following day.

And that's the rub. For Frankfurt's Aldstadt is not that much bigger than the one in Legoland. And let that be a lesson to you: Don't use Legoland as a substitute for a travel agency or a guide book, because it's not that reliable. The Altstadt does in fact appear to be just a few old buildings clustered together - there's not much to it. You won't get tired walking round it. In fact, you probably wouldn't get too tired hopping around it.

But still, I won't hear a bad word against Frankfurt. It has a lovely cluster of skyscrapers, which individually aren't that attractive, and it was very nice down by the river where we stayed, and I really loved the 'love locks' on the bridge. That's the first time I've ever seen those, but I think it's a lovely idea. Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

Love padlocks (also known as Love Locks) are a custom by which sweethearts affix padlocks to a fence or similar public fixture to symbolize their everlasting love. They are most commonly placed on the railings of bridges.[citation needed] It is suggested that the custom of "locking a padlock and throwing away the key" probably originated in China. The custom of love padlocks has become internationally popular.

And that was our holiday. I know I said at the beginning that there was going to be some important information for those of you new to travelling around Germany, but it's going to have to wait until the next post because my 2 typing fingers are very tired.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The rain in Berlin falls mainly 3 months after the rain-gear has sold out.

This year I am trying to beat the system. I will not be out-witted by the German way of bringing out vital clothing and accessories at an unseasonable time of year, sell them all within a day and not replenish the stock. I will not end up with either nothing at the right time of year, or having to ship stuff across from the UK wildly guessing at the correct sizes on the internet. Nope, not this time. I've got my eye on the ball. Finger on the pulse. Ready to pounce.

While out and about with Orla I noticed that their was a sort of buzz around the fleeces in H&M. Like flies. Swarming. And the temperature must have been in the mid-20's. When the sun was on you it was scorching, but there were little crowds gathering around the rain gear in Karstadt, Tchibo, and H&M. With a little gasp I realised that this was the 'moment' I should be buying rain gear for the kids. I scuttled the pair of them off to Tchibo and got them both kitted out at a reasonable price, and just as well, as when I stopped off at C&A (looking for nice clasps) the rainwear section lay decimated. I felt like I'd won a competition!

Next up I will be keeping my eye out near the end of September for the hour when they sell the winter snow suits and sledges. And while I am feeling ever so smug and pleased with myself for having the kids prepared for the weather ahead of time, I also have the funny feeling there won't be a single drop of rain or flake of snow until my pair have had sudden growth spurts and outgrow the whole lot.

In the meantime I am waiting, poised like a panther for those snowsuits. (Incidentally, just so you know, we are also just about to enter into 'boys in tights' season. I have seen a 3 pack of nice starry & stripy tights for boys in Tchibo to match Hamish's raingear, and also noticed some nice stripy ones in H&M, but last year I saw a boy wearing rather smashing spiderman ones with a great big spiderman face on the bum, which I thought were superb, so I am holding out.)

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Girls Week

We're having 'Girls Week' this week. Hamish is back at Kita, and Orla and I are spending some quality time together. Mother and daughter time. We've never really been able to do too much of that, she was only 15 months when Hamish came along, and normally I have them both together and don't have much opportunity to spend one-on-one time with them.

So before she starts school I thought it would be nice if we spent some time doing some of the things that she would like to do. Admittedly, we've also had to do some things that she hasn't wanted to do, like picking up documents from the doctors and taking Hamish for his U7 tests (that's the standard age 3 tests here), but we've also gone to the cinema and saw Cars 2 in German ( and because the German schools have gone back it was easy to explain the bits that she didn't understand as we were the only ones in the cinema. And we went to an ice-cream shop, and we went shopping for art supplies and things for her schuletute, and we've done some craft projects.

And because I knew it would make her really happy, I finally got my act together and finished sewing the dress I've been making for her. It's been hanging on the outside of her wardrobe for hmm... months, so it was about time. I also managed to make a drawstring bag to hold her school tights in which was easy-peasy and I'm rather chuffed with. We've also done some baking and some craft projects, and while my house is now awash with sequins and Hama beads which keep appearing in the oddest of places (like Stevie's dinner), we've had some really good fun. If you want to see more of the bouncy bed pink dress photos then head over to fiona gray . paints.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Postcards from Germany: The Bodensee & Zurich

Allensbach on the Bodensee.

Zurich - pretty buildings, pretty toy shops, pretty flag. What more could you want? I hear the Swiss also make great chocolate. I'm sold.

Meersburg - quite possibly my favourite place on the Bodensee.

After all our Legoland, Playmobil fun we headed down to the Bodensee for our 'proper' holiday. The Bodensee is right at the bottom of Germany, and everyone raves about it as a great holiday destination. I was in charge of all the holiday arrangements, though frankly, if I didn't think Stevie would be worse at it, and we'd end up staying in a brothel, then I would gladly hand over this responsibility to someone else. But Stevie's view seems to be "You spend all day on the internet, you must be an expert."..."Yes, yes, I am, but mostly at sourcing pointless fripperey at fantastic prices". Hotels, sadly, no. So while we were in Nurnburg, I may have managed to avoid booking us into a brothel, we may well have been booked into a hotel next to a brothel as we were surrounded on 3 sides by lap dancing clubs and sex shops , though there was a really nice looking gallery and design shop too so you know, it was worth it, and even though Stevie couldn't sleep from the music banging through the walls from the nightclub, I had no problem at all.

But I digress, the place I booked on the Bodensee was an apartment within a hotel which I thought would work really well for us as it came with a 'fully equipped kitchenette'. For some reason I packed as though we were flying with Ryanair (i.e. as little as possible) and not taking the car, and assumed that a 'fully equipped kitchenette' would include a washing machine. Alas, apparently it means one of those compact kitchen unit things from IKEA. You get a sink, 2 rings, and a fridge. No washing machine. Now if I was feeling really sorry for myself, I'd tell you I can barely type my hands are so cracked from all the hand-washing I did every evening. (But I'd be lying, really, because I'm quite lazy and just waited until we were desperate and then washed and washed and washed away in my little IKEA sink). Aside from that it was lovely, and the kids discovered they did actually like Nutella, and it was close to the beach.

We stayed in a place called Allensbach and visited a few places around the Bodensee. We went to Konstanz which is lovely though chock-full of tourists (and wasps - though they may have followed us from Legoland) and my lasting memory of it will be Orla going absolutely berserk over a pretzel that I wouldn't buy her and screaming wildly so that everyone in Edeka stared at me with funny looks on their faces.

We also visited Friedrichshafen because I really wanted to visit the Zepplin Museum. Friedrichshafen is not the sort of place you visit for the architecture - it's a bit horrid really. Well, not horrid, but not exactly lovely. We got near the Zepplin Museum, but wouldn't you know it, I didn't get to go in it. Both kids were too hot and fed up and moany, which in turn made Stevie rather moany too. There are times when I just give up for the sake of my own sanity. So I abandoned my secret plan and drove them back to the hotel where they all had a wee sleep and then tottered down to the beach. Pah.

We also took a feery ride from Konstanz to Meersburg. Now if you get the chance, go to Meersburg. It's lovely. Really pretty. Lovely painted buildings along the shorefront, a great big castle on the hill, vineyards rolling down the hill towards the harbour, beautiful quaint streets, vines growing up buildings laden with grapes, shop windows full of cuckoo clocks, and just a general loveliness about the whole place. And if you get bored of all that you can play crazy golf. I think Meersburg was my favourite place around the Bodensee. The kids enjoyed the ferry ride there and back and quite liked the hilliness of the place (makes a change from flat as a pancake Berlin) and so we were all happy.

Oh, and we went to Switzerland. Stevie has raved about Zurich ever since he got stuck there between flights for a day by accident with work. He spent a day in the city with a work colleague and was totally wowed by it's beauty. He says it's the most attractive city he's ever been to, and frankly he's gone on about how I would love it so much that I had to go while I had the opportunity. And it is lovely. It has a gorgeous altstadt and really was worth the trip. I took probably a million photos and decided that the Swiss flag is possibly my favourite. The kids are sticking with the German flag as their favourite. The Swiss is now their second favourite. That's as far as the list extends. I'm a lazy mummy and haven't even bothered mentioning the Union Jack to them. As far as they're concerned when we arrived in Germany it was right in the middle of the World Cup and we were surrounded by German flags and they took it into their hearts as their flag. My little patriots.

Anyway, I also discovered about 3 really lovely little toy shops in Zurich. It was very lucky for me that it was Sunday when we went or I could have easily spent an awful lot of money, and not just on the kids. The windows were full of things that I know could have made my sister very happy this Christmas: lovely little notebooks decorated with anteaters following a little trail of ants in lovely Scandinavian colours, giant wall hanging owls made of paper in beautiful colours, wooden St Bernhards holding little Swiss barrels, beautifully drawn dressing up dolls just asking to be framed and hung on a bedroom wall, boxes containing stacking cardboard cats wearing little jumpers and carrying presents tied with ribbons. Oh, just thinking about it makes me want to go back. (But being the resourceful creature I am I took photos instead so I could Google the brands when I got back)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Postcards from Germany: Legoland & Günzburg

Paddling as fast as they can to get away from the wasps.

Squeal with delight if you want to go faster!

The pretty wasp-free streets of Günzburg

Ah...I've just realised that this photo doesn't really show the curvy roofs. Oh well, you'll just have to go yourself and have a look, as I'm too lazy to change the photo.

So after the Playmobil Funpark we moved on to Günzburg for the night before hitting Legoland Deutschland. This was our second visit. We went in April on our trip to Munich and Regensburg, Augsburg, Bamburg and the CzechRepublic. Ideally I would have liked to have had a little more space between the Playmobil trip and the Legoland trip just to eek things out a bit, but god forbid, we might have missed out on the wasps had we done it that way.

My enduring memory of Legoland is of the wasps. They are everywhere. Gazillions of them. You can't stand still for more than a second or you'll have 3 of them at you with back-ups on the way. So it's best to keep on moving. Which was fine when we came in April because the queues were almost non-existent, but some queuing was required this time round and the wasps were driving us all nuts. Eating was not a pleasure.

But Legoland was still great. The kids loved it. Same as last time. We didn't spend as much time this time round walking round mini-Germany, but I did go back and check out Frankfurt, just to make sure that was the place I fancied visiting. It was - but you know what, I think I prefer the Legoland version to the real version.

Anyway, the other thing about the last time we visited is that we didn't actually go into Günzburg the last time we went to Legoland. We stayed in a farmhouse outside of the town. But we went out for dinner there and if you are planning on visiting Legoland Deutschland, I would highly recommend a visit to the town. It's full of lovely architecture, with buildings with curvy roofs, and all painted pretty colours and little tree-lined streets. And less wasps.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Postcards from Germany: Playmobil Funpark

One thing we realised shortly after our first travels around Germany with pesky kids was that we needed to include quite a few stops, and ideally, if we wanted to see anything of interest to us we had to broker a deal with Orla & Hamish whereby their displeasure at being dragged round lovely architecture was offset by visits to places that they would like.

And so on our way down to the Bodensee, we made our first stop at Nürnberg, which is nice and handy for the Playmobil Funpark. I'd seen this advertised inside the Playmobil catalogue, but had made the assumption that it was for slightly older kids than mine, possibly around 6 or 8 years old. But we decided to try it anyway, and I am so glad we did.

Talk about FANTASTIC!? I loved it. The kids loved it. And I loved it even more. Admittedly, it should be noted that I do have a bit of a Playmobil addiction, and played with Playmobil myself when I was a child, so other visitors may experience different levels of exuberant enthusiasm. But by the same token, please also note, that this is not a lengthy, rambling) postcard (I must be turning into my mother), I just thought it was brilliant.

Where to start. Well, the price for starters: It's only 10 Euros per person with under 3's going free, which is quite a bargain compared with other marvellous places like Legoland, Disneyland, etc, etc. And if you don't go in the peak season it's only 8 Euros. So even better.

But of course the best bit about the Playmobil Funpark is all the toys. That's what it's all about. And there are tons of them. Outdoor toys and indoor toys, so it doesn't really matter if it rains. Hamish particularly like the construction vehicles and diggers that they have in an area filled with gravel and sand. There were also swings and climbing frames and spades and all sorts of other things for the kids to do at this bit. But the best bit was that there were enough toys for everybody, so no squabbling, and the ability in Hamish's case to wander around with a digger in each hand.

Orla loved the water play areas. There were a few 'watery bits' and I would probably recommend taking either some swimwear for the kids (if it's nice and hot) or a change of clothes. I forgot and Hamish got soaked and had to wander around in his pants while his shorts dried off. Nonetheless, he didn't care one bit as they had a canal system set up at perfect Hamish height with all the Playmobil 1.2.3. water toys such as little boats, loads of arks, and dolphins and so on.

There was also a bigger canal type thing set up near by with lots of pirate ships, car ferries, various sail boats and dolphins, whales, and loads of other sea creatures and other things that float. But the best watery bit as far as my kids were concerned were the big clams. These were fenced off and children were let in in groups of around 12 at a time. The aim of the big clams is that water flows through them and tiny little Playmobil toys, such as starfish, shells, seahorses, seals and so on appear inside the clam and the children have to reach in and try to collect them. They pretty much have to lie on the ground to get their arms in to reach, and the assistants will 'help' the younger ones find little toys which is great. You can buy a little clam shell for 1 Euro to collect all the little toys you find which you get to keep for free. Yay!

Oh and how could I forget the rafts?! Beside a giant pirate ship you can sail (or rather, punt) a raft around the water with your children. I have never seen so many terrified parents aboard rafts. It was quite funny. Especially as I didn't go on one. But Stevie took the kids on one and seeing Orla stepping rather perilously close to the edge of the raft with her paddle about 5 times before Stevie made her sit down was enough to give me the same frightened look as those parents aboard.

I could go on and on about how great the Playmobil Funpark is. But I'll try to keep it (slightly) brief. The indoor play areas were also fantastic. There's a massive one in the food area which has all the big Playmobil houses, schools, castles, hospitals, safari, etc, etc, and a smaller one near the entrance that has more of the Playmobil 1.2.3. indoor toys and pirate ships, farms, and equestrian centres for the older ones. Frankly we could have stayed for days.

I had never heard of the Playmobil Funpark before I moved to Germany. It's not advertised in the same way as Legoland or Disneyland, but it should be, and I would highly recommend it to British parents as an excellent place to take Playmobil-loving kids. There are also Playmobil Funparks in Paris, Malta, Athens and the USA. Who knew??

Friday, 5 August 2011

I return: unusually slightly brown.

I'm back! I'm back! I made sure to phone my mum just in case she hadn't slept the whole time I was away worrying about internet interviewing murderers and the like, but it seemed that she had forgotten that we might all be lying in shallow Wiesbaden graves as she'd had a marvellous day at Zumba and tap. I was a bit miffed to be honest. Not even a restless night tossing and turning. Rubbish.

As usual in our quest to 'fit in as many places in Germany in the short time we may have left in this country without driving the kids mental in the process' we managed to see a fair amount of German hotspots. We started off in Nürnberg, then jumped right in to the Playmobil Funpark, then off to Günzburg, (which we've visited before) to go to Legoland Deutschland. From there we went to our holiday apartment in Allensbach on the Bodensee, and then visited Konstanz, Meersburg, Friedrichshafen, and Zurich. Then we headed back up through the west stopping at Stuttgart for the night, Wiesbaden (to see the lovely Frau Dietz), and Frankfurt. And then we faced a mammoth journey back to Berlin.

I'd like to say it was non-stop, but there was a lorry fire on the motorway so there was a great big stop for an hour and a half which only made Stevie drive even faster on the Autobahn. I had to close my eyes at 190 kph. I can only do 150kph before I start to feel a little scared. I am not even going to convert 190kph into mph as I'll probably be sick. And as I've just eaten a 95 cent (!) Creme Egg bought today at the British shop and then hidden (and thought about longingly) until the kids were asleep, it's just not worth it.

And now, it's very late, so I'll have to leave all my holiday tales for another time. But I hope you're all relieved that we're still alive, or were you too busy doing the time step too? Man, I knew it!
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