Hello February

Wel, lookie here. A brand new month.

I’ve been gone for a week, I know. A mini-plague descended on my house and we’ve been recovering. Meanwhile, I’ve also been up to my eyebrows in edits. Even sick, obsessive nature won’t let me go. It’s a blessing and a curse.


This is going to be a short post, because I’ve got a lot going on at the moment. I thought I’d clue you in on some of that!

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Ice Cold

Last week, I bombarded you with images of snow. This week, it’s ice. You see a theme here? This winter has been more than a smidge colder than last, but the weather brings many new experiences for those of us originally from warmer parts.

So, ice.

We live close to the River Ruhr, but we also have other water in our area – fountains galore. Having said that, all of these fountains are usually turned off to dry when the daylight savings kick in and the cold starts. This means we’ve never seen water freeze over in the winter. Until this weekend, that is.

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Neuschwanstein Trip

We’ve been ogling this castle for a looooong time. You know how I feel about castles to begin with, but this one was kind of special, and not just because it’s the template for the Disney castle. Imagine this place, with its majestic spires and pristine white bricks, keeping its vigil on the side of a snow-covered mountain, rising above a thin veil of mist. It’s the kind of thing fairytales are born of.

Even if you ignore the incredible imagery that the area has to offer, the history of Neuschwanstein is really interesting – a fairytale backstory in itself. The castle was commissioned by a mad king, who was so indebted to his people because of his obsession with building this castle, that he was taken into custody. While under arrest, he was mysteriously killed while strolling with his psychiatrist, and both bodies were found in a lake. To this day, nobody knows what happened or who killed them. Read more on Wiki.


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Why, hello!

Lookie here, we have a brand spanking new website, with a new host! No more struggling to get blog posts live! No more pulling out hair because of limited social media options! And you can finally follow the blog again! Yeehaa!

Migrating to this website was a big job, but I’m glad it’s done. All of this could have been avoided if I hadn’t been so lazy. Sorry. Drag and drop looked so much more fun than coding. 😛

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My WIP – Tree Decorating and Tower-scapes

We spent Kayla’s first two Christmases in South Africa, but for the one she was 6 weeks old and for the other, just over a year. So I doubt she remembers much. Last year, we didn’t want to make too much of a fuss, because our apartment was still temporary and we didn’t want to buy too much stuff to have to move with. That meant we had no tree. Still, I think she was too young to really appreciate all of the Christmassy stuff.

This year though, Kayla demanded that we buy and decorate a tree.


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The Threes

My kid will turn three in under a week, can you believe it? I struggle to.

Kayla is a happy, sweet little person. She loves to cuddle and kiss and say ‘I love you, Mama’, which obviously melts my heart. She and I have a blast together, and that’s a good thing, considering she’s home with me all the time. Honestly, I adore her and being her mom.

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My WIP – Where Did Autumn Go?

First of all, I apologise for missing yet another blog post on Friday. I went to my German lesson as always, then received the bad news that one of our doggies in South Africa passed away. I was really sad and shocked by the news, which really just jumbled my mind, I accomplished nothing for the day.

Along with that, Kayla is almost three and Kayla approves of nothing because she is almost three. Good grief, sometimes motherhood is difficult.

Anyway, this weekend went in much the same fashion as our weekends tend to go lately. We met with Mario and Plamena for coffee on Friday afternoon. I totally had ice cream, because, reasons.


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Visit to Kaiser Park

So, Oberhausen has a schloss (this word can be used to describe anything from a castle to a manor house – in this case, it’s a manor house) and a park, but we’ve been putting off going there. First of all, the schloss is not that impressive (in our opinions) and we had no idea that Kaiser Park existed, because it doesn’t have a website. Secondly, when we have so many cool places to visit in and around Germany, why would we go to the local spots?

Yeah. We were idiots.

Kaiser Park is amazing and Schloss Oberhausen is quaint. Yes, that’s the word I’m going with. The locals call it the schweinchen schloss – schweinchen being ‘piglet’ – because the schloss is pink. Oink. OK, fine, ‘whimsical’ may have been the better word choice.

Kaiser Park has a free petting farm (we’ve been finding these all over), beautiful river views and hiking trails, and a nice kiosk next to the schloss. There’s also a restaurant and beer garden, if that would tickle your fancy. We’ll go visit the schloss art gallery sometime.

We had a lot of fun here, but nobody loves seeing and feeding the animals as much as Kayla. And then riding in a fire truck trumps all.


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Germany – Things I Don’t Understand

As you can imagine, culture shock is a massive thing when you move to another country. Germany is no exception. In fact, some of the stuff that we see here is completely unique to Germany, like the German toilet. Yes, you read that right.

Today I want to talk about some of these weird-ass things, so I’m not the only ignorant one anymore.


1. The German Toilet

post-16-1101231567I thought I’d start here, because I can almost feel your anticipation after the post’s opening paragraph.

The German toilet differs from loo’s in the rest in the world because the hole and pipe through which the waste flushes is a small opening at the front of the toilet. Not so bad? No, you don’t understand. Go open the lid of your loo and have a look inside. I’ll wait.

Because the flush-hole isn’t shaped as it’s supposed to be, you get what’s called a poop-shelf. Poop. Shelf.

Whatever comes out of your body happens to be on display on this shelf. As in, it strikes a pose and pouts before you can flush it. And if you had that leg of lamb last night, the doodie may be too heavy to flush. Or worse, you might have had all the trimmings with your waffle (which has to come out) and the, uhm, pile becomes a mountain – a problem when you want to wipe your bum without getting brown smears on your hands. I’m here to help. 😀

The basic idea with this is that you can inspect your excrement, just to make sure all is well in the down-under.

I’m not kidding.

Also, since it’s generally accepted for men to sit and pee here (it’s the refined thing to do), there’s no splash back when you do the number 1. As for the number 2? Pray you don’t have runny guts.



2. Breezes are Evil

Many Germans don’t open their windows at all. Those who do, usually make sure there’s not a draft through the house, because even the slightest breeze can kill you.

OK, fine, kill is a strong word. They do believe that sitting in the way of moving air can make you ill, though. There’s even a phrase for it – es zieht. Basically, fresh air isn’t supposed to be allowed indoors, otherwise you might become ill, develop a stiff neck or even bladder infection.

Even on the hottest and most humid of days, wind must be kept out. #thisismadness

This illness-inducing behaviour also goes for walking about without shoes. Jan and I are big supporters of bare feet inside our place or on the lawn, but the natives think we’re insane. You keep your shoes on, even in the craziest heat. The end. The only places where I’ve seen folks take off their shoes, were those that involved water; the public pool, near rivers and at water-playgrounds. Even then, you can wear swimming shoes here – rubber soles with tops made of that lycra-ish fabric they use for wetsuits.


3. Public Alcohol use is Legal

Drinking in public isn’t legal in South Africa, strictly speaking. Still, folks have a beer on the beach, or around the braai (a bbq) in a park, and that’s fine. This law isn’t enforced so heavily. What you won’t see is people drinking that beer while walking to the mall, for example.

In Germany, you can have that beer wherever the hell you want – on the train, in the street or in a park.

I don’t mind this so much, because not a single drunken German has ever pestered us (and we’ve seen cartloads of drunken Germans). I’m not mad about the empty beer bottles rolling up and down on the train, though. But then, litter in general annoys me.



4. Oktoberfest is in September

On the subject of beer, Oktoberfest. You’d think that with the month October in the title of this festival, it takes place in October? Well, no.

It ENDS in October. This year, Oktoberfest will be from 17 September to 3 October. The festival spans over the 16 days to (and including) the first Sunday in October. So get your lederhosen or dirndl ready for mid-September!


5. Strange Laws and Rules

Some of the rules make at least some sense. Like if you ride a bicycle while drunk, you can lose your driver’s licence too. It’s frowned upon (though not illegal) to sing the first verse of the national anthem, because it opens old wounds from the Nazi period. You want to address a police officer in a formal manner (AKA sie and not du) or face a fine.

Then there are those rules that no-one understands. Like it’s illegal to keep a beloved’s urn at your house (ashes have to be buried), you can’t deny a chimney sweep entry into your home, and you can’t drill, mow the lawn or make any kind of related noise on a Sunday.

We were convinced the chimney sweep thing was fake, until a chimney sweep showed up at a friend’s apartment over the weekend. They left a note (he wasn’t home) and he has to pay a fine, because he didn’t let them in. O_O

You can read more about this here, here and here.


6. The Division in the Bedroom

So, in Germany, you’ll rarely find a double bed. This isn’t never, it’s just rarely. I don’t know why.

The bed will either be two singles pushed together, or a double base with two single mattresses. This will often also include a single duvet for each bed. In fact, finding a real double (or bigger) duvet and linen is complicated here. My best advice if you want it – shop online. Ikea is your friend in this department.

If you book a hotel room or other holiday accommodation, you’ll be struck by this phenomenon as well. Honeymoon-goers be warned.

You can buy a piece of sponge to insert between the beds and unify the mattresses. Aptly, this sponge is called a liebesbrücke (love bridge).



7. Only Pharmacies Sell Medicine

In South Africa, if you want aspirin, paracetamol or a variety of other basic medicines, you can go to your local grocery store. You can buy what you need for a cough, nausea and a whole lot of other ailments you can self-medicate, without having to speak to a pharmacist. And then, with Dischems everywhere (selling everything you can think of) and pharmacies inside Clicks and Checkers, you can buy pharmacist-assisted medication in the grocery stores too.

This isn’t the case in Germany (and some parts of Europe). You won’t even find aspirin in the grocery store – every kind of medication can only be bought from a pharmacy. The grocery store keeps vitamins, lozenges and eye drops, but little else.

Sure, there’s a pharmacy on almost every street corner in the city, with enough branches sprinkled throughout the residential areas, but I still find this strange. To make it even weirder, the pharmacists here tend to give you herbal medication, instead of meds containing the paracetamol, etc, except if you specifically ask for *insert medication here* (in our experience).


I could add some more to this list, like the fact that pigs are seen as a symbol of luck, or that everything is closed on a Sunday (with the exception of some shops in a train station), or that potatoes can be enjoyed even as a pudding, but I’ll stop here. Still, if you’d like to read more posts like this one, let me know and I’ll write it.

Thanks for stopping by!