It's very likely that this could be the last time we have the joy of racing back to Berlin and waiting for a big box of goodies to arrive. So this time I thought I would share with you the kind of
crap essentials that I buy to make my expat life more complete. The theme of this box is 'back to school meets supermarket sweep'. Enjoy it in all it's glorious minutiae.
So where to start. Shoes! Kids shoes in Germany are far more expensive than in the UK, and although many Germans will argue that their price here reflects better quality, it's not really true. Shoes are just ridiculously expensive, and if I can time a trip back to coincide with a need for shoes then I'm happy. So from left to right (below) you can see where I started to go a bit shoe crazy: Orla got school boots, snow boots, Hamish got snow boots too, then Orla's school shoes, then Hamish's school shoes, both sets of trainers for sport at school (all from Clarks), pink sparkly wellies for Orla - from Mothercare (I managed to leave Hamish's at my parents) and lastly purple Nike trainers for me which were a bargain and bought with a voucher left over from Christmas.
Next up you can see some PE shorts, a Sylvanian Families Wedding Car, one of three cookbooks I had waiting on me that I had ordered from The Book People (Rachel Allen's 'Entertaining at Home, Delia's Complete Cookery Course, and I got Jamie's Great Britain for free.). And just before we went to Scotland I decided what I really needed was an ice cream machine. I found this one on Amazon UK for just under £20 and it gets great reviews. My first try was a little disasterous, but I am sure it will be great with a bit of practice! Anyway it was probably the heaviest thing in the box as it has a double walled insulated bowl which is really heavy.
Next up, clockwise from top left, a cake mould which is 6 little gingerbread men that I couldn't not buy from Wilkinson's, which is lying slightly on top of 2 double sheets which really are dirt cheap in Tesco. Next are a couple of things left over from Christmas which I decided to squeeze in for the kids: foam letters and foam face parts which I bought in the sale at the Early Learning Centre. Below them are some glittery craft shapes (always going to be handy for school projects! Though probably for me and not the kids!). Two books I picked up in Tesco, as I feel our bookshelves really do need a good refreshing. Two little tops and a card for one of my friends who has just had a baby boy, some food clips which are smaller than the IKEA ones, a DVD, and 3 bottles of Mr Muscle Kitchen Cleaner (yes, I know I could buy kitchen cleaner here, but I just like this best). Oh and right at the top is an extra large pencil case for all of Orla's felt tip pens.
Again from top left, I went a wee bit mad in Wilkinson's as everything seemed such a great bargain. I bought 12 (2 packs) of star shaped silicone cupcake cases, 2 children's mixing spoons, some stationary on a 4 for £1 deal that I could put in the kids Schultutes (though I brought a carrier bag more of this in my hand luggage for that purpose), 2 Crayola craft kits (maybe for presents?) and an awful lot of starry cupcake cases in paper. It always surprises me that while Dr Oetker is a German company, the range in Germany is far more limited than it is in Britain. Odd.
These things are all sitting on box number 2 which contains books I had sent to my mums ages ago. I bought the full range of Roald Dahl books for the kids - I think Orla is just about the right age for me to start reading some of them to her. I bought the cookbooks mentioned above, and a set of Harlan Coben books that my mum recommended but which I have never read. In front of the box is some chocolate, the kids don't see much white chocolate here and you don't really get buttons, white brown or otherwise, so...
Below those are some more craft things, patterned papers, glittery paper, and dinosaur stickers. Below those are some Winnie the Pooh cookie cutters (which were meant to be in a Christmas gift for someone, but which were discovered at my parents) and 3 packs of Crayola felt tips which can go into presents for school friends as a wee extra.
Now you can see at the top the tripod my dad bought for me in Aldi or Lidl which I used last night while a bit drunk at my friend's party. The purpose of which is to stop any camera shake, but weirdly the amount of alcohol I drank still seems to have affected the focus of my photos. Oh dear. Then a Lego book also from the Book People which contains Lego and guidelines on how to make about a dozen little toys. A swim cap and googles for Hamish's school swimming lessons, a blue stripy top (part of a set of 2) and a bear hat for Orla from M&S. Cream cable knit leggings from Tesco for Orla which I thought looked warm for winter under dresses. Make up from Boots for me. I planned on stocking up but they are changing the packaging this week, so all the old No.7 range was in the sale and there wasn't much left to buy. Two shopping bags from Tesco, a Cars jigsaw we never shipped back at Christmas, and some plasticine (perhaps left over from Christmas??)
Beside Hamish's swimming cap are a selection of DVD's from Granny Margaret, some tights from Mothercare for winter for Orla, a nice bright cardi from M&S, 1 pair (from a pack of 2) jogging bottoms for Hamish, and enough clasps to hopefully restrain Orla's hair until at least Christmas. I have stopped buying clasps that cost much as she seems to lose them on a near daily basis.
Beside the coloured tights, there are tights for school and a million pairs of pants for both kids, Orla's £3 for a pack of 5 from Tesco, and Hamish's £7 for 5 Fireman Sam ones and half price £3.50 for Thomas ones, both from M&S. Below those some swimming trunks in the sale for Hamish for his weekly swimming lessons, and packs of school socks for both of them from M&S.
Finally, packs of vests for winter for both kids, 2 of Hamish's 'guys', a whole bunch of underwear for me, 3 pairs of pirate mix and match pyjamas for Hamish from M&S, a tankini for Orla in the next size up (it was in the sale), and 2 plain white polo tops which I can potentially sneak under their school jumpers even though they don't have the school logo. These were priced at £2 for a 2 pack in Tesco! And that's not even a sale price. And there we have it. Back to school shopping (more or less) in a nutshell.