Friday, 28 October 2011

Randecker Maar

I have been meaning to write a post about our walk around the Randecker Maar a few weeks ago.  It was the first of the cold days after the unseasonal heatwave, but still sunny which made it perfect for a walk.

The Randeker Maar is a nature reserve situated on the top of an old crater lake, formed by volcanic activity about 17 million years ago.

View of the Randecker Maar from the road below
There are two circular walking paths around the top, which start and finish next to a Restaurant with a handy Biergarten attached.  I would say more but I think the pictures speak for themselves, a great place for an afternoon of walking.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


For the first time in a very long time, I did not want to get out of bed this morning which is unlike me especially as today we had a castle to see, and I love a good castle me.  I was all warm and snugly, I didn't want to be parted from my Uwe or my duvet.  Neither did the sun as this picture from the balcony demonstrates that she still had her snugly foggy duvet wrapped up tight.

The car thermometer reinforced why I didn't want to get out of bed by reporting it was 0.5 °C, but as we drove through Stuttgart the skies turned blue and the temperature raised to a head 3.5 °C!  It took us about an hour and a half to get there and it had turned into a quite beautiful day.  We managed to park quite easily in the multi story attached to the funicular railway taking us up to the castle, although this was quite by accident but I think we were both pretty relieved when we realised we wouldn't have to walk up by foot.

View from the road below
It cost us €5 each for a return journey to the castle stop and entrance to the courtyard, Apothecary Museum and to see the giant barrel. We didn't go on a guided tour of the castle itself, so I think a future visit would be lovely.  The building varies in style because as with many castles it was in use over many centuries and bits were added and bits crumbled away though attack, accident or lack of repair.

The stonework is ruddier in colour than the greys of castles I've visited back home in England and is certainly very decorative in places.

This seasons latest must have, a bird hat

But there was something even more stunning than the building, the views of Heidelberg and the River Neckar.

Some other treats I saw today included the castle's resident cat, a very large barrel and a stuffed crocodile...

soft kitty, warm kitty...

this wasn't even the large one...

Not sure what stuffed crocs were actually used to cure, not sure I want to find out...
And an extra bonus for everyone a clip from 1980s English slap stick comedy show Hi-de-Hi:

Thursday, 20 October 2011


It has been a dull drizzly day in Esslingen, but one month after getting on a plane with a one-way ticket I am happy to say it is still sunny in my heart.

I spoke to my Dad for well over an hour on Google Talk and as we were about to hang up he told me that he was so pleased to hear me happier than he has heard me in a long time, which really means a lot as I know how much he misses me and I miss him too.  Thursdays were our Father Daughter lunch outings back in England so we are continuing the tradition through our webcams.

I am enjoying discovering my new surroundings although I have only been out once by myself tomorrow I have a solo date with Esslingen town centre.  It is so beautiful around here, coming from Milton Keynes I thought I had it good being surrounded by so many trees, but even in the spring when MK is one big Blossom explosion I don't think it can compare to even the vineyards on the edge of my new town.

It's true I have had a few "oh fudge I live in Germany now!" moments, and I know there will be many more of those in the future, but right now I love Uwe and I love my life, and no I haven't even had any local wine today!

My new surroundings...

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Viva la Twitteratti

I signed up for Twitter yesterday, I must admit my main reason was because I wanted to pester the people at Hollyoaks (my guilty pleasure) because this weeks omnibus edition hadn't appeared on iTunes yet, I didn't get a reply but I am happy to say the program has now appeared.

As well as the obligatory following of Stephen Fry I have found some of you fellow expats yay, so if you see an @ExpatAnna then that is me, if you don't see an @ExpatAnna then tweet me as I haven't yet tracked you down :)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Whose Voice is it Anyway?

I think that most English speakers find dubbed versions of films and TV quite amusing to watch, and I often wonder if the full character can come across, like the southern gun specialist in CSI:Miami would it be better to give her a strong local dialect in dubbing rather than Hochdeutsch?  Something I that hadn't occurred to me was brought to my attention a few days ago.

I turned on the telly and a film was playing, the well known main actor was dubbed, Uwe had his back to the telly doing something on the computer.  The actor spoke and Uwe immediately said "Oooh Bill Murray!" I of course asked him if he had seen the film before, which he hadn't so I asked him how he knew who it was before looking, by his voice of course.  Now I am sure this is obvious to everyone else but I really hadn't thought that an actor would be dubbed by the same voice over artist for everything they do.  It reminded me of a story I heard a year or so ago about the death of Princess Diana, something crazy like 3000 look-alikes woke up to find themselves without a job.  I suppose it's not a case of "oh thank god Bill's got a new film contract, I can eat this year!" but they must do other acting jobs and put on other voices for different actor's.

Anyway here is a clip of Ghostbusters dubbed in German for your enjoyment!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

It's Life Jim, Almost But Not Quite As We Know It!

I admit to being somewhat naive when I first visited Germany, I suppose I thought that we were such close neighbours and relations that most things would be the same as there are back on the Island.  I can put this down to my not being well travelled at all, in fact I had only ever been to France three times, the last of which was when I was 12 and to Amsterdam for a few long weekends. I was 23 when I flew for the first time and with my trips to Germany I have more than doubled my lifetime flying in less than two years.

Things aren't massively different, even the words sound quite similar, but different nonetheless. Over the past three weeks there hasn't been a day when when one of us has enquired along the lines of "You do it that way in Germany?" or "You don't do it that way in England?"

Some of it may be seen as old fashioned by some, but myself I am quite pleased that Germany holds onto some values which have been long forgotten back home.  Here - as I know other bloggers have noted - Sundays are still rest days, the shops except for bakers are closed which means time to do other much funner things instead. 

Supermarkets are smaller and fresh produce is much more seasonal.  In my local Sainsbury's most of the fridges were taken up with ready meals but here I haven't spotted even one that compares, in fact I remember joking with a colleague a few years ago about potatoes not being muddy any more like when I was a child, I am pleased to report the veg here not only has evidence of coming from fields but is also in naturally occurring un-regimented sizes.

The food itself is of course quite different and Junk Food is not quite as widely available, for example back home I could log onto and order anything to be delivered to my door within 45 minutes, or to Sainsbury's for delivery the next day which just isn't possible to do here.  Which is good for me as I did far too much of that through my depressed non leaving house days and as a result have had to join WeightWatchers to work it off.  Now I have rediscovered the joy of cooking along with discovering for the first time the familiarly alien art of German cuisine, if you're interested in any of that you can check out my other blog Slimming in a Foreign Land.

On Monday I opened a Bank Account here, which I was surprised to hear would cost me a monthly fee on top of the cash machine fees which we don't pay in the UK unless it is one of those privately owned extortion machines.  However the most astonishing thing for me was when Uwe informed me he had made an appointment with his "guy at the bank" which I know used to exist in England before everything got centralised and shifted to massive call centres in Newcastle or New Delhi.

I have to say that a lot of things aren't necessarily better or worse over here or there just different, and I generally like how things are done here. I find the only really annoying thing is that most content on Youtube is blocked because of GEMA, but I can reliably tell you that pisses off the Germans just as much.

Monday, 3 October 2011

My First Festivals

The past weekend has been a packed one, Friday and Saturday evening was spent in the company of Uwe's friends two of whom were celebrating birthdays and Saturday itself was spent doing my second German oral exam and driving about doing some furniture shopping.  We finally found a suitable Schriebtisch in an amusingly named store called Hofmeisters, which of course meant I had to bring up the old "all Germans are obsessed with the Hoff" chestnut.  Which in itself is quite topical as the Hoff himself believes he is the one solely responsible for toppling the Berlin Wall, and today is a bank holiday in Germany commemorating the reunification.  To be fair he did have a pretty flashy jacket on when he played on the Berlin Wall back in 1989.

Yesterday we visited the Pumpkin Festival in Ludwigsburg, I have been itching to visit since we went to the Blühendes Barock in July 2010, that day was in the middle of a summer heatwave and it was about 36°C, absolutely scorching! I had seen a leaflet for the Pumpkin Festival and thought it looked amazing in a kitschy surreal kind of way, and the bonus is that being held in Autumn it would be a much more reasonable temperature (unless, like this year, it happens to be a freakishly hot heatwave when it should be about 12°C, but is instead 26°C!!).  I had read the lovely Laurel's post on last years festival and last week she posted her review of this years and with this theme being Dinosaurs I knew I had to see it for myself!

The place was absolutely rammed with visitors, it was hard to take pictures because of how many people were there, and even in the areas of the vast Gardens which were not pumpkinified one could hardly move.

That's right Pumpkinosaurs!!
The Pumpkinasaurus Rex was my fave.
After looking around for a while we were delighted to see a hut selling ice lollies, but as we approached the counter they closed, so instead I took a picture of an amusingly named icy German treat:

Just to prove my sense of humour has not moved on much since I was a toddler...
Something I found even more amusing than Dinosaurs made from Pumpkins and an Ice Lolly called Bum Bum, was the children's entertainment area, no bouncy castles or noisy fairground type attractions needed here! Pop up a wooden hut area, cordon it off and add some bails of hay and let the kids chuck it at each other, brilliant!  It looked really fun and I was tempted to join in :D

I wouldn't want to be the one cleaning up after that!
After a tip off from Laurel we sat down for some refreshments and I had some of the Pumpkin wine, which does sound wrong but is in fact very, very right!  I promptly visited the shop and bought a bottle to take home, which sadly I have already finished while catching up with the last two weekends of X Factor.  I did want to bring home some of the wonderful varieties of Pumpkins on offer, but towards the end I was so hit I couldn't be bothered to queue up again but I did take some nice pictures.

Sure to make someone some lovely soup one day.

Originally I had pencilled in the Göppingen Weinfest for Sunday, but I decided to let fate decide - okay the people on Facebook - and oddly enough they chose Pumpkins.  However i had forgotten that it was a Bank Holiday and we could do both, so to honour the people who had voted in my Poll we did that on Sunday and today we visited the final day of the Weinfest. I had my first taste of Zwiebelkuchen, which is a quiche-type thing but instead of pastry the case is a savoury sponge cake kind of affair.  It was a gorgeous day drinking cold wines in the Sun accompanied by a live Volksmusik band, perfect!

I had been hoping to find some Federweißer as recommended by the delightful Frau Dietz but we were out of luck, talking of luck the Frau herself has an exam coming up so send her some happy thoughts!