Sunday, 27 May 2007

Baby language

Having a baby I expected the difficulties to include a loss of sleep, mental faculties and control.

I expected the happy gains to include experiencing feelings of unconditional love and contentment. I did not expect to see ‘developing conversational German’ on the list of gains, but it definitely needs to be added. For, when I take April into town in her baby sling, she is like a magnet for German females who want to engage me in small talk about her size, age and general cuteness.

Take yesterday for example:
• On the up escalator coming out of the tram I found myself surrounded by a group of über trendy teenage girls cooing over April.
• At the counter of a parfumerie a group of young mums came over to engage us in conversation.
• As April and I waddled through a department store there were audible ‘ooos’ and ‘aahs’ from assistants.
• On the tram home a lady sitting opposite me grabbed April’s tiny hand and exclaimed that it was cold. (This made me feel like a bad mum for not kitting April out in gloves.) The lady went on to make all of the usual exclamations about April being small and sweet, until we both had to get off at the same stop. At this point she asked if I knew where such and such a street was. Fat chance that I could answer her query (due to poor knowledge of the local geography and the local language), but I was chuffed that she hadn’t twigged that my German was so inadequate until that point. The lady then grabbed April’s hand again to make a special point of saying goodbye to the little one.

If only April could understand her public...although as her outfit shows, she is trying to embrace the lingo. These garments were given to us by a couple of Simon’s female colleagues. ‘Statt Karriere’ means ‘Instead of a career’ (nice joke ladies) and ‘Mit Liebe gemacht ’ means ‘Made with love’.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Nice ice

Cologne has an abundance of ice cream parlours. A speciality around these parts is ‘spaghetti eis’ which is ice cream that has been pushed through a press to make it look like a bowl of spaghetti. It is topped with strawberry sauce to give the appearance of tomato sauce and white chocolate shavings to represent parmesan cheese.

The parlours generally have lots of lip-smacking flavours of ice cream to choose from such as mango, chocolate, coconut and pistachio. All ice cream dishes are flamboyantly decorated with nuts, pieces of fruit, wafers and sweets then drizzled with sauces and, if you’re in the mood, liquers.

Luckily for us there is an ice cream parlour 5 minutes walk from our flat. Yesterday, as it was sunny (Who am I kidding, saying it's because it was sunny? The real reason is I have a sweet tooth!) we decided to potter along and ordered the biggest, chocolatiest sundaes on the menu – see video evidence.

This particular dessert has a thought-provoking name: it is called a 'Nuss (nut) Knacker'. It contained chocolate ice cream, chocolate truffles, chocolate sauce, chocolate coated nuts...ah, you get the picture...

Please note, I have just realised that my off screen video commentary is reminiscent of the Jamie Oliver programmes. Sorry about that everybody.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Bier wagen

I was walking along minding my own business the other day, when I heard some music blasting out from the road behind me. It was very D * I * S * C * O in genre. Not wanting to give the source of said music the pleasure of too much attention, I very casually glanced around, trying to give the impression I was looking at something else. (Could be a spy, me, with such skills of suberterfuge...)

I was expecting to see an open topped car with a pimped up sound system. But no. What I saw was a nine person bicycle beer bar. Let’s call it a ‘bier wagen’ for argument’s sake. The vehicle had the following attributes, which you will need to piece together in your head like an imagination photo-fit. (I didn’t have a camera on me...)

• The body of the vehicle was made of a portable long bar with a thatched pitched roof
• The bar had its own beer kegs
• There were four men sitting on one side of the bar; four on the other - all drinking and all wearing hats and lederhosen
• Below the level of the bar all men were pedalling!
• One man at the front end of the bar was pedalling and steering

The motley crew of nine seemed to be having a great time combining the joy of an outside active pursuit with that of daytime drinking. Sums up the stereotypical German, I thought to myself...While the choice of disco music was perhaps very characteristic of Cologne – a town where many have told me, ‘It’s good to be gay!’

Monday, 14 May 2007

Gratuitous baby photo

This is how childhood nightmares start...April week 2

Sunday, 6 May 2007

The birthing experience

Having given birth in Germany I must say I am impressed. I had constant and thoughtful care and attention during labour and plenty of support after the birth. My sister had quite a different experience in England. She was booked to have an induction on the 10th day she was overdue. However, 3 hours before she was due to go into hospital for the induction, her contractions started naturally. She called the maternity unit to inform them she was coming in - and the receptionist who answered asked her if she could wait until the time of the appointment as the unit was busy. The receptionist helpfully suggested that my sister take a paracetamol and have a bath to ease the pain. Needless to say, she ignored this advice and made her way to the hospital ASAP.

Lost in translation

Yesterday we went to a baby shop as we needed a few more things for April. Soon we found ourselves perusing the breast pump section with some interest. (Oh yes, our relationship has entered a whole new exciting phase!) On the box of an electric breast pump we saw an unfortunate mis-translation warning: 'This is not a joy.' Well, to be fair, it certainly didn't look fun to use.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

It's the 1st of May, but April is where it's at

I'm chuffed to bits to say that April Harris was born on Wednesday 25th April. I think she is absolutely beautiful - though I admit that I have no objectivity on this issue! Blogging may be a bit less frequent over the next few weeks as I try to fit in posts between feeds and nappy changes. However, here are a couple of pictures for now:
April 5 days old
April at 5 days old:
April's special T-shirtA commemorative t-shirt given to us by the hospital: