Sunday, 27 May 2012

The social conscience

Both kids had a big long sleep yesterday afternoon, more than likely because of the heat, so we were able to go out last night for some after-dinner fun. A trip to the park on the bikes, some ping-pong for me and Stevie (though we were battling through that fluffy pollen which was coming down like snow), and some climbing and swinging, and zip-wiring and so on for the kids. Afterwards we stopped by the ice-cream cafe, and it was all very nice. We were just heading back home with Hamish beginning to drag behind on his balance bike, and Orla scooting on ahead on her proper bike, when she turned around and shouted back along the street (quite concerned) "Mum! Dad! There's a little boy out walking on his own! You need to get help!!", except it wasn't a little boy, it was a dwarf, who rather confirmed he was at least 25 years old when he turned round to look at us.

Normally, I can only hack one cringe-worthy experience a weekend, but this weekend we've decided to spoil ourselves rotten and have two. This morning we had the Stolpersteine ceremony in front of the house with all the neighbours. We gathered at 11am and Stevie's big plan was to take the kids bikes with us so that they wouldn't get all restless, noisy, and annoying, and instead could have a little cycle around in the background.  Anyway, the thing went off without a hitch. Our neighbour spoke eloquently about her research over the past 2 years, and told us how difficult it had been to find information about the residents who had been taken away. The stories of the former residents lives were moving and the whole thing was quite emotional. At the end, our neighbour laid 8 roses out on the pavement beside the Stolpersteine; a rose for each one. I was surprised and quite chuffed at how well our two had behaved throughout, it struck me that they recognised that it was a solemn occasion, and they behaved accordingly.

Well, at least until Orla came cycling out of the building as we were all stood around chatting, and in everyone's full gaze, cycled right over the freshly laid roses. I kid you not. Roll on tomorrow. It's a bank holiday, and I'm hoping for a hat trick.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Stumbling across Stolpersteine

"a person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten"

Gunter Demnig is in town. He's the artist who came up with the Stolpersteine project. Stolpersteine are the brass cobblestones that you see every so often embedded into the pavements in Berlin and beyond. You can also find them across Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Norway, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and I think France now too.

Gunter Demnig

Stolpersteine, or 'stumbling blocks' are a way of remembering the victims of the Nazi regime, inclusive of Jewish citizens, Sinti, or Roma; victims of political or religious persecution (e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses); homosexuals; or victims of euthanasia - anybody who suffered under this regime. They can also be laid for those who committed suicide because of the oppressive circumstances of the time, and can also be laid for people who survived the persecution, for example children who were removed to safety or those who managed to escape. They are laid outside the last chosen address of the person, and usually they start with the text 'Hier wohnte' (here lived) followed by their name, date of birth and a brief description of what happened to them. Sometimes they say 'here studied', 'here worked', 'here practised', 'here taught', or sometimes are left blank, but 'Hier wohnte' is the most common you'll see.

Positioning the Stolpersteine

Each victim receives his or her own stone. And today we were having 8 laid outside our apartment block. A family of 3, including a child, who were murdered in Auschwitz, a married couple who were deported to, and killed in Riga, and 3 women deported to Riga along with the married couple all on the 25th January 1942. 

Positioning the Stolpersteine

There was a lot of discussion about the positioning of the blocks. Family members are positioned together in groups, and depending on the paving blocks and manhole covers, etc outside your building, the positioning of the stones can be problematic. As you can see from the photos a lot of care was taken on finalising the layout, and it was decided to have them in a line directly in front of the Haus. 

Positioning the Stolpersteine

Gunter Demnig is very involved in the process of positioning and checking that all the details on the Stolpersteine are correct before laying. In the past he used to also lay the blocks, but as he is getting older there is a team who do all the heavy work of lifting slabs, laying the stones, bedding them in, and any cement work also required. 

Preparing the area for the Stolpersteine

It felt like a real honour to meet Gunter Demnig and see the Stolpersteine being laid. I really like them. They seem such a lovely way of remembering the people who suffered, and yet they are small, unobtrusive, and individual. When we first arrived in Berlin we lived in temporary accommodation on Heinrich Heine Strasse in Mitte, and the Stolpersteine there were the very first things that Orla asked about that were different from 'home', and the first things that we jointly fell in love with about Berlin.  

Fixing the Stolpersteine in place

People often ask how we feel about living in Berlin, in amongst all the history. I am interested in learning about it (where as I wasn't interested at school) and it seems to me that while we are here and have the opportunity to access so much information that it is the perfect time to do that. Stevie is less keen; he finds it distressing and I understand his choice in not seeking out more history than he wants to. Berlin is the kind of city you can come to and either immerse yourself in the history or avoid. I don't feel like it's *in my face* all the time, and I think the Stolpersteine are quite representative of that. 

Cleaning the Stolpersteine

Our Stolpersteine have come about due to the hard work of one of our neighbours. She has spent 2 years researching the lives of the people who lived in our building and were taken from here, including trying to locate any surviving family members. She has managed to find out more about some of the people than others, most lived in the Vorderhaus (front house) where we live, and the married couple lived in the side house. Only recently I found out more about the history of the area we live in through stumbling across some photos on Flickr which had a link to a website which the had further links leading me to further information. We live in an area which was highly populated with Jews, and reading about what happened to the people in my street and the surrounding streets was horrifying, and yet I couldn't stop. I am glad that the current occupiers of our apartment block have made it possible for us to have the Stolpersteine to remember the previous ones.

We're all gathering in front of the building on Sunday to commemorate the people named on the Stolpersteine, and to hear their stories. It'll be sad, but I'm glad to be part of it.

The Stolpersteine project website:
AndBerlin documents the Stolpersteine they come across: (start with the intro)
Wikipedia: piece on Stolpersteine:

Monday, 21 May 2012

I love it when a plan doesn't come together

Because today I should probably have been packing up our stuff, waiting for the removal men, spending the afternoon cleaning and scrubbing the empty apartment, and moving us into a hotel with a couple of suitcases, our passports, and our tickets home.

And that would have made me sad. Because it was a glorious day, nearly 30 degrees, and I'm not ready to leave Berlin. Not yet. So instead I bought some fresh strawberries and raspberries and sat out on the balcony with a nice book. And I had a quiet celebration in my head. Because I love it when a plan doesn't come together.

Here's to November! (Or maybe next May)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (Berlin-style)

We arranged to meet friends today at Teufelsee, a small lake in the Grunewald not awfully far from Orla's school. We'd heard of it before, but had never been. We were meeting to have a bit of a picnic and a chat. It came as a surprise to me to find out that it was a bit of a nudist area. I say "a bit" because in fact it's more 'anything goes'. A mixed bag of people wearing clothes, people wearing bathing costumes, people wearing just a hat, and people wearing hee-haw. I guess I assumed at these beaches it was either naked or not naked. But even within groups there were different levels of undress. It reminded me all of that Manet painting, 'Le déjeuner sur l'herbe'. Manet would have loved it. There was loads to see here. See what I mean? It's like the Manet painting!

I saw a naked dwarf, Stevie saw a tattooed penis, and as much as I might like to be as ok about nudity as the Germans, I just can't feel comfortable seeing a (possibly) 8 year old naked boy walking a toy giraffe up his grandmother's naked body while she lies back talking to her daughter. Not while I am eating my lunch at any rate.

We also saw a photoshoot when we wandered round to the sand dunes. It was great. An interesting day and a different side to Berlin to experience. And look at that sky! Bright blue, not a cloud, and the sun beating down.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

For the love of asparagus

Nobody *needs* a giant inflatable pillow, but if you try it, you'll want one.
We went to the best place with the least memorable name I've been to in ages the other day! I've had to go and find the leaflet just to tell you it's called 'Buschmann Winkelmann Spargelhof Klaistow'. You might know it as the 'Spargel place with with the giant bouncy pillow'. Or  'Hüpfkissen', if you want to order one. And if you try it, you will want to order one. Look! They even have a baby one! 
Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. Hamish came here on his Kita trip the other week. Cynical old me thought the reason they had brought the kids here was so the staff could all stock up on asparagus at fantastic prices. But in fact it's just generally great. From the moment you get there you get that warm, happy feeling that comes with there being NO ENTRY FEE. That's awfully nice of them. Especially as there are tons to do.

Jumbo white asparagus. 
 For starters you can, as most people probably do, buy a mountain of asparagus. White stuff, jumbo stuff, green stuff, all at a great price. Your pee won't thank you, but it is the best asparagus we have tasted.

There is simply loads for the kids to do. From little Bobby cars, to the hay bales laid out in a maze formation. Below you'll see Orla lying on top of it in the split second when she wasn't running around and jumping about on it like a crazy person. (They also have a corn maze later in the summer which they missed a trick by calling it the 'Maislabyrinth' when quite obviously it should have been called the 'Maismaze'). Honestly I have nothing bad to say about this place. Which isn't like me. I like to be a little sarcastic and negative for humour purposes, ad it's just not happening. I even liked those what-do-you-call-them's below for NOT having crap written on them like 'be my love bunny' - because like them, I like my love notes to be factual. Serious. To the point. And to many, asparagus is love.

The people of the Buschmann Winkelmann Spargelhof Klaistow have a love of asparagus so deep and intense it's like one of those relationships that's gone a bit crazy. Because there is no other reason to assume that normal people will want to eat asparagus ice cream. Even if you place it in the middle of the selection between the strawberry and the hazelnut. (And if you do fancy trying it, then I am just going to assume that you are the same person who buys that bright blue Smurf ice cream. "A kugel of asparagus, and a kugel of Smurf on top please" - AND, if you are thinking "mmm...that sounds nice", please stop by the chemists for a pregnancy test: there may be some good news waiting for you).

The madness continues in the store where there are a thousand un-bought bottles of asparagus liquer. I do love the bottles, and the labelling is nice, but the thought of it alone is making my stomach spasm. Having said that, I would buy it though. Why? Think about it: It is the perfect thing to stock your drinks cabinet up with as your kids hit the age of around 14, 15. You know, when they sneakily start going to friends parties and make up a Coke bottle of mixed alcohol from their parent's booze cupboard. Think you can get the better of me? Ha! You'll never want to drink again after you savour your first Spargel/Cinzano cocktail!

As you can see, they also got a bit carried away with the pasta as well, and decided to *improve* it by making it strawberry. Has anyone tried this? I am wondering whether you could dessertify this and do something marvellous with custard or bread and butter pudding and fresh berries. Otherwise I can only imagine it with salad, and if I even let my mind wander to the prospect of it with a Dolmio sauce, I start coming over all queasy again.

So I am way off topic. I was going to tell you about there being animals, and a climbing forest (Do you do that? See a word like 'Kletterwald', think "that makes sense", and then not know what you should call it in English?). They have flea markets, restaurants, bands playing, playgrounds, fairground rides for teeny tiny kids, a giant wooden boat, quad bikes, horse rides, animal feeding sessions, a forest to walk through, various festivals, oh, and in September they'll be making giant dinosaurs out of pumpkins. As you do.

So, all I can really say is this place is great. You'd love it. It's free for Christ's sake! What's not to love? And if you find yourself low on brushes and creepy things made out of fur that you'd like to stroke as you sit by the fire rocking back and forth in your rocking chair eating your Smurf ice cream, then let me tell you, this place is gonna ROCK YOUR WORLD!

Buschmann Winkelmann Spargelhof Klaistow website:

Link for the pumpkin exhibition: just look at the photos. There should be a caption competition for that one with the men with the camel.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Deep end boys and west end girls

Uch you know, just a wee young thing I picked up after my new hairdo.

If you listen to a lot of the young 'un's over in the Eastern parts of this city, you'll hear a load of crap. The West is boring; nothing happens there; it's not cool; blah, blah, blah. And, it's not true. Well it's not all true. Admittedly, we enjoy a somewhat more sedate pace of life compared to Warschauerstrasse on a Thursday night, but that's only because we're all indoors smoothing the pelt on our mink coats with our daughter's Barbie hairbrushes. Come the weekend, we're ready to party.

As if further evidence were required to prove how awesome the west side of Berlin is, I took my camera with me today to my new not-quite-favourite-but-heck-I-used-to-hate-these-places-place, Stadtbad Schoeneberg. In other words: a swimming pool. I know. If you ever read this post, or it's friend, this post, you'll realise just how great this place is for me to actually like it. But wait for this: I even went there today on my own account. NO FORCING REQUIRED!

So why the sudden change of heart? Well, for starters, it's clean! Bowl me over with a verruca sock! The changing rooms are clean and pleasant. You have to take your shoes and socks off in a little room before you go through to the changing rooms which eliminates that skanky, mucky wet that you normally find in changing rooms. The changing rooms are a vision of modern frosted glass and large slate tiles. And for the delight of youngsters, inside the cubicles there is a release handle which opens the doors on either side of the cubicle revealing their mother's semi-nude shouting body. (Of course, if I was German, I'd be mingling in the shared changing room, but I would struggle to gag Hamish's loud observations on other people's bodyparts while nonchalantly uncovering mine). 

Anyway, on to the pool. In the kids area, which you can see below in a photo I grabbed off the Tagesspiegel, you have a bunch of pools. Off to the far left (out of frame) there are loungers beside a very shallow pool for tiny people. When I was there with Stevie, he loved this pool, which he described as being "as cosy as warm piss". Which given the average age of the clientele in that particular part of the building, it probably was.

Beside, and the main pool below, you have a kind of jacuzzi section going on bottom left, a slide, one of those fountain things, and if you go under the bridge, you can go outside to a LAZY RIVER!! Seriously. I was sold at the cleanliness, but I fell in love with the lazy river. Back indoors, there's also a flume. Notoriously quick to crap myself at the sight of these sorts of things, I must of been in a shocked-by-wonderment-daze, because even I went on it....more than once.

Photo from Der Tagesspiegel copyright: Kitty Kleist Heinrich
There is also a proper grown-ups pool with diving boards in a separate area, and even it has a pool to the side of it for non-swimmers. This is the pool that features in my photo at the top, because way down at the deep end there's a window where underwater swimmers can wave out at the voyeurs with kids and cameras in the reception area, or alternatively the unsuspecting can get an eyeful of folk's bums and wobbly thighs trembling through the water. Like I say, AWESOME!

Anyway, I like this place, so if at all possible if you're in the area and fancy a swim, could you go somewhere a little further east? It's really cool over that side of the city, and all the floating plasters feature post-modern grafitti for the delight of local hipsters and tourists alike. Promise.

Adventures in Groupon: Like I just stepped out of a salon

Forgive me this sudden attack on your eyesight.

It's not often I force my giant face on here, but the thing is, I've been Groupon-ed.

We've been going a wee bit Groupon mad lately. A meal here and there. Late night bowling with disco lights hooked up to the equalizer. And of course I went to Loxx Miniatur Welten with Sarah a while back, and we got a taste for saving money, or a taste for spending it on things you probably wouldn't otherwise yet thinking you've got a bargain. Our adventures in Groupon are set to continue with a meal in the dark restaurant. God help us. Everyone says it's rotten. It's a total tourist venue. Let me describe it: you are served by a blind waiter, and you eat in total darkness, the premise being that you 'experience' the food more. From the reports I have heard, your clothes also get to experience the food more. And the food isn't meant to be that great. But still I am looking forward to it. I think we'll have a lot of fun. Especially trying to take photos. Don't tell Sarah, but I am totally going to make sure I don't need the toilet before we go because I don't fancy having to take the waiter with me. I've already been pre-warned that when you enter you have to hold on to the waiter's shoulders to get to your table. My plan is to hang back and let Sarah cling to the waiter. Like I say, I think it'll be fun.

We also have a trip booked to go up in the Die Welt hot air balloon. It doesn't do much, just goes up, as it's tethered to the ground, hangs about for a bit, then it's back down. But as you might have guessed, this really is us treating our cameras to an outing. It's nice to have a friend to share these moments with. Especially a friend who doesn't say "Seriously, can you not do anything without a camera stuck to your face?"

Which might explain my Groupon haircut. See above for details. I have a wonky fringe. Or rather I have one side with long chunks in it. I noticed it at the time and said to the hairdresser about it, and she trimmed a half centimetre off it. Then I said again, and she trimmed it a bit again, but not so much that I didn't come home, scowl into the camera, and then straighten it up myself.

Incidentally, I am utterly rubbish at complaining at the hairdressers. I know that. This was me doing my best to say "I am not happy with my fringe: sort it". She also told me what a gorgeous colour my hair is. I laughed. I thought it was a hairdresser's joke. As the last time I was at this same hairdressing salon I decided to go dark. Except that it washed out after 4 washes and the result is not entirely unfashionable, but unintentional ombre hair. Overall, I'd say my hair is the colour of pine furniture from the 80's. It makes me shudder with embarrassment. My hairdresser says it's "just lovely". Well, this is Berlin after all.

My other Groupon adventures:
Unsicht-bar - eating in the dark restaurant
Panoramapunkt - sightseeing from the top of Kollhof Tower.
Die Welt hot air balloon - sightseeing from Berlin's famous hot air balloon
Loxx Miniatur Welten - Mini Berlin with trains in the Alex shopping centre

Friday, 11 May 2012

227 days to go!

Surprise, no it's not another countdown to the London 2012 olympic's post. It's a remarkably unseasonable Christmas post. Yay! What's not to love about another wedge of Christmas right in the middle of May? I got a Christmas card yesterday as it happens. Stevie came back from a work trip to Derby, where he'd also managed to fit in a visit to the house to see how things were going with our tenant. Anyway, he brought me back a nice 5 month old Christmas card from an old colleague, which was nice. Maybe that got Christmas into my subconscious, but today when Hamish and I were heading to the bank to drop off a payment slip to the police for that amusing time when Stevie had the car towed away, we were just heading along the Ku'damm when I noticed the Käthe Wohlfahrt shop which is a permanent (mostly Christmas) shop that you'll probably be familiar with if you've been to a German Christmas market. Given that it was a 'frosty' 29 degrees Celsius outside, I thought it might be a good idea to pop in.

So in case the name is not jogging your memory, the Käthe Wohlfahrt shop at German Christmas markets is usually in a pretty big log cabin. They have it set out so you have to wander round following a set route more or less, and you kind of just shuffle round in your allotted position in amongst about 400 other people all doing the same thing. You might also remember it as the place where you can't take any photos, and indeed photography is also banned in the shop. But one of the sales assistants asked me if we wanted our photo taken in front of the one area of the shop in which it is allowed. So here we are. I wish we'd worn woolly hats at least.

I wasn't too pleased with her effort, considering she barely managed to get Santa in. So I took a photo myself.

And then I started getting brave and started quickly whipping my camera out of my bag, grabbing a shot, and then I spent the next 20 seconds worrying that I'd get caught and they'd confiscate my camera. Hence, ahem, the um... lack of focus that follows. 

There is an AMAZING cuckoo clock on this wall that I wish I had take a close up of. It's got 3 bears on it and the detail on it is just stunning. They do have some of the clocks on the website, but not the 3 bears one. But anyway, I would love, love, love, to have a spare (best part of a) grand to buy a 3 bears clock. I really like these, but when I think about it, I would have to have the kind of money a footballer's wife has in order to permit myself to buy one of these. 

Moving on, you can walk up a big winter wonderland spiral that goes round a central giant Christmas tree that takes you up to the Christmas shop on the first floor. It's quite pretty! There are lots of little dioramas set up to gaze at along your journey. Hamish thought it was great. 

This is the central Christmas tree that the spiral ramp goes round. As you can see they have gone with my family's preferred decorating method of cramming as much on as possible. There tree of course was upwards of about 20 feet whereas we can fit the same amount of decorations on to a 4 foot tree. I guess they just need a bit more practice in time for next year.

Once you're at the top there are all sorts of lovely things to behold. I am not really a big fan of the decorations that are made out of pale sort of balsa wood, with jig-sawed designs, but even I can be persuaded when I see something like this on such a big scale. Cool, isn't it? Excruciatingly expensive of course, but you could be like the Christmas shop and have it up all year round.

And in case you're wondering how a Christmas shop can stay open all year round, well let me just say, we weren't the only ones there: there were people buying stuff too! 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

"A plague of plastic windows on your house!"

These are the windows to my soul. (And that tells you all you need to know about my soul)

I'm going to tell you about my windows. No, don't you dare click away! Though perhaps you have been waiting on tenterhooks to hear what the latest developments are window-wise. And God, you'd be wrong not to. It's gripping stuff. A real old rollercoaster ride of upvc thrills and spills. Or, I could be making that up. In fact right at this very minute I am wondering why I started this blog post, but I've already uploaded all the photos, so we're just going to have to see it through together. Aren't we? You're still here right? You've not just flicked through the photos, paused momentarily to admire the orange and yellow gingham curtains in my bedroom, and moved off to some more promising blog title on the right? Good. Now stop looking at those curtains: they'll burn your eyes.

I moved to Berlin for the view.

Anyway, finally! Finally! I got to say goodbye to my 'heritage' windows. These windows have been the bane of my life for such a long time I can't even remember how long it's been. If you follow my every word and commit it to memory you might remember this post, where we explored the subject of language interpretation in relation to these windows. So since our landlord got a sniff that he might get a year or two's extra money if he stopped the damn things from falling into the street, he decided to bite the bullet and shower us with dust and upvc. I couldn't be happier. Well, I could, but we'll get to that. The plan was that they would be here for two days to do both the living room and the bedroom. I figured they would do one room one day, and another room the next, but to my surprise, they decided a better idea would be to take out ALL the windows on day 1. To think I was worried about it being drafty over winter?: I didn't much fancy sleeping in a windowless room overnight. 

"Tell Martha Stewart she's styled the room beautifully..."

The trouble was this window (above). We have a door out to a balcony on the left, and you can see a window on the right, and in case you missed it, we have a ginormous window slap bang in the middle. This is the window voted most likely to fall apart in a breeze and kill someone. It's big, isn't it? I think the thing is that you don't realise just how big the windows are because the ceilings are so high (though you can't even see just how high they are in this photo), and you don't really think about it until you start thinking of how nice it would be to replace those hiddy curtains with something nice that was actually attached to the top of the window *all* the way along. Then, even with IKEA prices, you begin to realise that you would actually rather use that money to have a holiday in the sun and just live with them.

So when the man came round and took all the measurements, he forgot to add a little note to the person making the window to say it might be hard to get a window this size up the stairs in one complete unit. There was talk of them attempting to take it apart, but thankfully they gave up. And so, I am stuck with it for another 2 weeks while they make it presumably in panels. The rest of the bedroom and living room windows went fine you'll no doubt be pleased to hear. The walls have taken a bit of a kicking, see below for an idea of the beautiful mess that has occurred.

My little hanging wooden hearts have also gone missing. Sniff...

 It's not a comfort to see them carrying out a pile of bricks which one can only assume previously were employed in holding together the front walls of the apartment. In fact, I am pretty sure if that gap-filling foam in a can stuff they use was an adequate replacement for bricks, there would be a lot more houses made out of it. Though what do I know, maybe there are. In fact as nearly everybody in this building has used this same company for their windows, there's a good chance that a significant portion of the front of the apartment block is made of foam. On the plus side, I am looking forward to moving back to Derby now that  I fear the front of the building collapsing. So that's nice.

And the little pig said: "Please man, sell me your shaving foam so that I can build a house".

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Lego: that's what little boys are made of.


Wannsee: That's a lot further out than I thought. Especially when I don't follow the satnav correctly. Orla had a party to go to today. She's going to be one of these women who has to start getting ready at lunch time for a night out. I know this as she had me laying all her potential party clothes out on her bed at 7am this morning so she could properly consider what she wanted to wear. The party wasn't starting until 2pm. And even with all this outfit deliberating, she still seems to have inherited my 'last minute' gene, and ate her lunch naked. 

Hamish, struggles with the whole party scene. Only because he can't deal with not being invited. So, I said that he could choose something to do with me and the other person with nae social life in this house, and thus, I spent another 4 hours of my life wanting to kill myself in the Legoland Discovery Centre, Berlin. It's a bad day when I hear myself saying "Are you sure you wouldn't rather go swimming?" given my deep-seated hatred of swimming pools. It's not that Legoland isn't great, it is, and I would highly recommend a visit to anyone coming to Berlin with kids. But I feel like I have been there 1 billion times now. I only look forward to the 4D cinema because it means I can have a 10 minute nap behind the 3D specs while Clutch Powers sprays water in my face from time to time, reminding me not to snore.

Anyway, today I realised something as I sat trying to file my nails with a Technics block. Lego is the perfect gift for grown men. And Legoland is the perfect place to take your husband/boyfriend on a date. Let me present the evidence:

Exhibit 1: Daddy 'helps' build a car while son gets to watch.

Exhibit 2: Father builds car while toddler son is playing with the Duplo shaking tables.

Exhibit 3: White-capped man tries to concentrate while wife wonders aloud if Legoland can be cited as grounds for divorce.

Exhibit 4: Man sits frustratedly while boy makes a hash of it.

And it seems a lifelong love of Lego starts with a head first dive into a barrel of the stuff.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Bikes and birthdays and Bambooland.

Bambooland + german book + non-alcoholic beer  = happy birthday
What a weekend. In brief: we had lovely weather, we had a birthday, and Orla learned how to cycle. It was excellent. Stevie's birthday was a big event for all the family. The kids thought that he would really, really love to go to Bambooland to celebrate though they didn't really like when he said that they could sit in the cafe and drink coffee and watch while me and him went dashing about on the climbing things and down the slides. Still we went as planned even though it seemed to be the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures hitting around 30 degrees. Bambooland was kind of cosy, but at least it wasn't mobbed. It is a great place and the kids had a brilliant time there but both Bambooland's in Berlin (Spandau & Steglitz) are a bit out of the way, in industrial areas, so you'd probably need a car, though the one in Spandau is actually right beside a station just along a bit from Siemensstadt which reminded me a lot of the bit in Derby which is totally populated by Rolls-Royce buildings.

I didn't have a 7, but nobody noticed. Or else they probably assumed it's slipped under the copious white chocolate butter icing.
 The celebrations continued for most of the weekend. The cake as you can see above was a delightful concoction, reminding me once again of how much I miss British supermarkets. It's just a regular sponge with jam and fresh cream in the middle, and white chocolate cutter icing (practically ladled) on top (well, I made so much, and I wanted to use as much of it as I could. There's at least the same amount again in that bowl behind.). And then I stuck some strawberries on top. But it got me thinking of how nice it would be to just nip down to Sainsbury's in the car and pick something up in 10 minutes. You could say of course that it's much nicer to have a home made cake, but when the recipient doesn't really care either way, well...

In other news, the pedals for Orla's bike that she got on her birthday finally arrived. Stevie popped them on for her and off they went. Have I ever mentioned how amazing balance bikes are? Well, they are ULTRA AMAZING! I can't even get my head round the fact that Orla just got on a bike with no stabilisers for the first time and could just cycle off! I seem to remember when I was learning that I was probably a lot older and there seemed to be a lot of falling over involved and my dad running along holding on to the thing. Stevie took her out and I popped my head out of the window over-looking the street and there they were: Orla cycling happily away, and Stevie shouting "TURN!" repeatedly to stop her riding into parked cars. I was so proud. She reminded me a lot of myself learning to drive. I found it incredibly hard not to plow the car into anything I happened to look at. Still, in the time I watched her, she only nearly ran down a few pedestrians and just two dogs, which I thought was superb, as when I was learning to drive I did *actually* drive into a parked car and up on to the pavement and into a fence. Thankfully, the streets were dog-free.

That's my girl!
The only sad thing this weekend was that I went out without taking my phone with me, and missed the chance to meet up with Heather from Heather Goes To Deutschland when she was in Berlin this weekend too. bah!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...