30 November 2012

The best laid plans of mice and men

Well, the birthday didn't quite go according to plan. In fact it didn't ressemble what was planned at all! However, it was just as good fun. My two bezzie friends had emailed a few days before to say they wouldn't be able to join me for lunch after all as both had gone down with the bubonic plague in varying forms - one with throaty/chest infection and the other with norovirus. It couldn't be helped and we promised to do something another time. However Greg's sister Jill was still on track to come down to London and we planned something completely different for the day.

First of all we made a beeline for Carnaby Street, as Jill had heard of a lovely chocolatier shop in that area that makes exquisite chocolate sculptures. Called Choccywoccydoodah, it was certainly an eye-opener both in terms of sculptures and the prices! Here are just some of the pictures I took on the ground floor level of their shop.

We went upstairs to their quirky cafe (even the toilets were well worth a visit for their quirkiness) and indulged in a lunch of chocolate dipping pot (choice of melted dark, milk or white chocolate with a variey of things to dip in it ranging from strawberries, marshmallow, turkish delight, brownies, tiffin and shortbread). Although the plate didn't look too filling at the start, I can assure you it made us stagger out onto the streets afterwards!

After a wander through the streets of Soho, we ended up on our way to the German market again on the South Bank  to have a look at the stalls.

We returned home for a cup of tea and a sit with the dog, before venturing out again in the evening for a meal at  my local Mexican restaurant. After our main course of chicken fajita, Jill let slip to one of the waiters that it was my birthday and, before we knew it, a slice of chocolate cake ended up in front of me complete with sizzling sparkler and a tambourine-shaking Mexican waiter (or then again he might have been from Scunthorpe). I told him it was really my 21st birthday and he picked up the table number sign, bearing the number 16  and nodded (I wish !)

Both unofficial and official birthdays were great. Thanks Jill and Kay!

26 November 2012

Meine Mutter

As Kay said to me over the weekend, I am like the Queen, as I have two birthdays this year - the official one and the actual one. My birthday is actually later this week (62 and trying not to keep on counting!) I'll be celebrating at a birthday lunch up in London with my two closest friends. Greg's sister is also coming to stay with me for a few days and will be joining us for the lunch too.

Kay will be unable to get down from the North for the actual day, as she'd be busy in lectures, but desperately wanted to come down the weekend before (the one just gone), even though I told her I didn't mind  and she didn't have to worry. She insisted and said she would be arriving for a long weekend on Thursday evening and not going back again until this morning (Monday). She also decided to combine her visit to me with a night out with some of her old schoolfriends on Saturday-night-into-Sunday morning, so we agreed the best day to celebrate my unofficial birthday together would be Friday.

I imagined we might go for a meal locally and we also tentatively discussed visiting the German market on the South Bank too. When Friday morning arrived, Kay was up with the lark and seemed very excited. "Are you excited too?" she asked.
"Well, yes," I said, although technically my birthday was still a week away and I hadn't quiet got into the spirit of things. She handed me my presents and amongst them was a card which she instructed me to open last. When I did there were two tickets to see Mamma Mia that very evening. You could have felled me with a feather. She had even resorted to subterfuge and asked a friend of mine to look in on the dog, while we were out (as I have said before he cannot be left alone for more than an hour or so which is why I am relatively housebound).
"You deserve a night out, " said Kay beaming from ear to ear.

First of all, during the day, we did go up to the South Bank to see the German market.

There were so many stalls to see, although not all were authentic
German ones,


but we could not resist having a Bratwurst for lunch there
washed down with a big glass of mulled wine (too tipsy to take pictures of that, sorry).
Who was it that said, when you are tired of London, you are tired of life? This view of London always makes me feel so good.

We dashed home again in the late afternoon to reassure the dog, then dashed out again in the early evening to see Mamma Mia. It was a fabulous, happy, foot-stomping show with people dancing in the aisles and we came away absolutely euphoric.  For an unofficial birthday (or even an official one) it was fantastic. Thank you so much Kay..... and I still have another birthday to look forward to in a few days' time.
The title of this post, by the way, is Mamma Mia in German. Well we WERE practising our German at the market, see.

21 November 2012

Pay attention at the back!

Aoccdrnig to rsearech at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny improatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a ttoal mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Tolatly amzanig huh?

09 November 2012

The futility of war

In the First World War my two grandfathers were on opposite sides.

My mother's father William was on the side of the English. Born in Bermondsey  as the oldest of ten, he enlisted at the age of 19 at the very start of the war and fought at the battles of Ypres, the Somme and Paschendale - the latter where he was badly wounded. He was in the Royal Artillery and had a horse called Smiler that used to pull the gun carriages. The horse was also badly injured and had to be put down. My grandfather luckily was brought back to England with injuries to his leg, head and eye. He lost his eye and from then on had a glass one. He was plagued by bad headaches for the rest of his life too, whenever the schrapnel moved around.

My paternal grandfather Erisch was on the side of the Germans. Born in Berlin, he also enlisted early on in the war. He fought for a time in France, where he was shot in the leg and then, after he had recuperated, he was sent to the Russian front which was notoriously freezing and conditions were unbearable. He was awarded the Iron Cross for his bravery. He went on after the war to marry a girl with Jewish connections (my grandmother) and in 1939 they were forced to flee for their lives and settle here in England, some number of months after their two teenage sons (one of them my father) had already come here with the Kindertransport.

 My German grandfather in exact centre front row.
When my mother and father got together in the Second World War, announced their engagement and introduced both sets of parents to one another, my two grandfathers amicably shook hands and joked "I bet you were the b*****r that shot my leg/eye".  It was good that they could be so forgiving, given the extent of their injuries.