Travellings: Deutschland #23

I’m currently sitting in the airport lounge at Munich airport as I write this. You will be reading this long after I have touched back down in the Land of Tea and Crumpets.

Today, I had my last day in the Bavarian Beer Monster – last day of work, last day living in my lovely nest of a flat with the most wonderful flatmate I could possibly have wished for, the last day for a while with a few important individuals.

I’m very much aware that this will sound like an obituary. It’s not. I know it’s not. But it certainly feels that way at the moment.

I don’t like the whole saying goodbye. I’ve said this at the beginning of the year abroad when I moved out, but somehow this is different. I suppose part of me always knew that I would return to my parents and see them again. But non-family members are different. Some people move on, some find it too painful and simply distance themselves, and others you simply drift away from.

Which is sad. Yes, there were times when I seriously asked myself what the hell I was doing. I certainly doubted my sanity at several points throughout the entire year; not just the beginning, and there were times when I had regrets.

But I can also happily count a large number of firsts and amazingly good times, too. First time I was entirely responsible for myself; first time on a massive rollercoaster (thanks, Ben.), and first proper concert, among other things.

Not bad, really.

And now I’m coming back. Sadly my relationship with Munich has been a little rocky, and after several attempts to save it, we’ve decided to separate due to irreconcilable differences.

It’s been a blast, Munich, it really has. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot in a such a short time, and I’m certain that I will look back on my time here as an adventure.

And whilst I may not have allowed the people I left behind see my tears, it was certainly a different story once they’d gone.

On the other hand, there’s always Oktoberfest:

Morning after the night before
You know when you're little and you think your toys do the whole Toy Story thing? Turns out they've been growing up too...

Also, macht’s gut, München, und danke für den Fisch.

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Travellings: Deutschland #21/Inane Whittering #14

Apologies for the radio silence – and for the fact that I will probably end up posting a series of posts of various episodes from Roo’s adventures abroad (I’ve just made that name up, but it already sounds far more interesting than Year Abroad) and then may well end up with another dry spell – I will try to avoid it, but I do need a break from being witty from time to time…

The first blindingly obvious observation I would like to make is how sodding cold it’s gotten. During the day here in the rather bemusing Bavarian Beer Monster, it’s around -15 degrees at the minute. At night it drops between -20-25 degrees. Friday night dropped down to -27, apparently.

It’s enough to give you goosebumps on your goosebumps.

As a result, I now resemble an onion in terms of the number of layers I’m wearing; I’ve had to break out my Matrix coat (it’s woollen, floor-length and black) and I’ve been knitting all kinds of weird and wonderful things for my wardrobe.

So far, I’ve made neckwarmers, scarves and wristwarmers. My current project is a pair of thigh-high legwarmers.

Now there’s a mental image for you.

Pictures will follow.

(Of the finished products, of course – not random pictures of my thighs. That would just be weird. Anyway, on to saner ground…)

My other recent habit is baking. Now, this happened when I was feeling a bit blue and was in one of my moods where I just wanted to go home and curl up on the sofa with the cat. Now, seeing as that wasn’t possible, and I don’t have a cat, I decided that some comfort food was in order.

But what? I already have huge quantities of teabags stashed in my room (I kid you not, my current total is around 5 kilos of the stuff) and I have marmite for my usual marmite on toast pick-me-up. But for some reason, it just wasn’t enough. No amount of B vitamins and caffine were going to pick me up out of this particular rut.

The much-needed solution?

Scones.

Up until now, I have never made them. 2 minutes of googling revealed that they’re suprisingly quick and (theoretically) easy to make.

Explaing to my flatmate what a scone is, however, proved to be rather more challenging. Needless to say, there is no German equivalent for scones. The dialogue resembled something like this:

(rough English translation of the actual German conversation)

Becca: I’m going to bake scones.
Cathrin: Scones? What are scones?
B: *looks shocked* What do you mean, “what are scones”?
C: *blank look*
B: *with a look of disbelief* You’ve never eaten scones before?
C: *shakes head*
B: *somewhat agitated* B-but, you’ve not lived!
C: *bewildered and somewhat frightened look*
B: Okay, um, they’re about this big *gestures with hands*, and can be eaten sweet or savoury. Traditionally, you eat them with *upper class accent* “Afternoon Tea” and you generally make them with sultanas.
C: *look of utter disgust*
B: …or not. The sultanas are optional.
C: *look of relief* How do you make them?
B: Well, you kind of make a dough-
C: So they’re cakes, then?
B: Well, not exactly…
C: Ah, so more like bread then?
B: Umm, more of a cross between the two.
C: I get it – like Brioche.
B: No, no – nearly the opposite of Brioche. Scones are heavier and denser.
C: So they’re cakes then.
B: *noise of protest swiftly followed by resignation* N-yes, I guess you could say they’re like cakes.
C: So, what do you eat them with?
B: Traditionally, clotted cream and jam.
C: What’s clotted cream?
B: …you don’t have clotted cream here?
C: …I don’t think so.
B: ah. Think of double cream but thicker.
C: Double cream? You mean Schlagsahne?
B: *head in hands* …probably, yes.
C: So, you only eat them in the afternoon?
B: Traditionally, yes. But I some people who munch them for breakfast too.
C: *absolute bewilderment* You people eat cake for breakfast?
B: No, I didn’t say that, they’re not really cak-
C: You eat cake for breakfast. God you English are weird.

So, in a bid to demonstrate to my flatmate that 1) they are not cakes and 2) us English aren’t that weird, I had a go.

My first attempt looked like this:

scones with jam
My children, my beautiful NON-CAKE-like children.

Whilst being far from perfect, it’ll do. For those interested, the recipe is as follows:

For glazing
1 egg beaten with a little milk added

The dough
55g of cold butter
(a generous) 150ml cold milk
225g (2 cups) self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Optional
50g (1/4 cup) sultanas

Because you can’t seem to buy SR flour here in Munich, I used the following substitute (and didn’t add any extra salt as stated above): for each cup of flour, I added 1/4tsp of salt, 1tsp of baking powder and 1/4tsp of baking soda (Natron auf Deutsch).

On a important note, it’s best to have the ingredients as cold as possible – and it’s also better to have cold hands; you want to avoid melting the butter.

The first thing is to sieve the flour into the mixing bowl – you will need a big one for this. If you’ve not had to recreate your own SR flour, then add the salt and baking powder now. Then add the cold butter.

Come to think of it, this recipe can get rather messy, so maybe implementing the use of little people here would be a good idea.

You need to stick your hands in and combine the butter and the flour so that its consistency resembles that of breadcrumbs.

Yes, it will stick to your hands and get under your nails. The things we do for food, eh?

Once you have a lovely floury buttery mess, it’s time for perhaps my favourite part. You know when you have bangers and mash as a kid and you used to make a well in the potato and then pour gravy into it and create your own mashed potato and gravy volcano?

That’s exactly what you do here. Create a well in the flour and pour in the milk, brave the sludgy feeling and stick your hands in to combine it all into a smooth dough.

DO NOT overwork the dough.
Or they won’t rise :(

Once you’ve combined everything, roll the dough out on a floured surface so that it’s around 2cm thick, and then cut them out. I don’t have a rolling pin so have to use my hands and I don’t have any cutters, so I use a glass tumbler.

Then place your beautious creations on to a greased baking tray, glaze them with the egg/milk mixture and bung in a hot oven (preferably near the top) at around 180 degrees C for 5-10 minutes.

It will depend on your oven, but Holger (our oven) seems to enjoy burning things to a cinder.

Et voilà! You have scones. Eat with with jam etc and enjoy.

Except don’t be surprised, if, like me, you decide to snaffle several for breakfast/afternoon snack/out of boredom and then discover that your trousers no longer fit.

I learnt the hard way :(

Travellings: Deutschland #20 – The Jabberwocky and Das Nonnenturnier

Apologies for the lack of posts as of late, but things got rather hectic and then came along Christmas and New Year, which were naturally spent in land of tea and crumpets. I then got back to the Bavarian Beer Monster on Monday night and then spent the next day sorting my things out before returning to work for 2 days – today in Bavaria is a Bank Holiday, so I get to finally update this blog before returning to knitting and writing more of the Book of Roo (previously named the Wuzel and the Butterfly).

Shortly before Christmas, I discovered a German translation of the Jabberwocky. Actually, there are several translations, but the one by Christian Enzensberger is my favourite. For those of you who are unacquainted with one of the most frightening monsters of my childhood, the two versions are as follows:

The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy.

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

——–

Der Zipferlake von Christian Enzensberger

Verdaustig war’s und glaßen Wieben
rotterten gorkicht im Gemank.
Gar elump war der Pluckerwank,
und die gabben Schweisel frieben.

“Hab acht vorm Zipferlak, mein Kind!
Sein Maul ist beiß, sein Griff ist bohr.
Vorm Fliegelflagel sieh dich vor,
dem mampfen Schnatterrind.”

Er zückt sein scharfgebifftes Schwert,
den Feind zu futzen ohne Saum
und lehnt’ sich an den Dudelbaum
und stand da lang in sich gekehrt.

In sich gekeimt so stand er hier,
da kam verschnoff der Zipferlak
mit Flammenlefze angewackt
und gurgt’ in seiner Gier.

Mit Eins! und Zwei! und bis auf’s Bein!
Die biffe Klinge ritscheropf!
Trennt’ er vom Hals den toten Kopf,
und wichernd sprengt’ er heim.

“Vom Zipferlak hast du uns befreit?
Komm an mein Herz, aromer Sohn!
Oh, blumer Tag! Oh, schlusse From!”
So kröpfte er vor Freud’.

Verdaustig war’s und glaßen Wieben
rotterten gorkicht im Gemank.
Gar elump war der Pluckerwank,
und die gabben Schweisel frieben.

——–

I then found an entire website dedicated to the various translations of the Jabberwocky. So far, I have found the following Polish and French versions – there were several versions for the French, but Frank L. Warrin’sLe Jaseroque” I think is by far the best.

The website is unable to show all of the Polish accents, so I decided to put them in myself for those of you interested:

Dżabbersmok
Maciej Słomczyński

Było smaszno, a jaszmije smukwijne
Świdrokrę tnie na zegwniku wężały,
Peliczaple stały smutcholijne
I zbłąkinie rykoświstąkały.

“Ach, Dżabbersmoka strzeż się, strzeż!
Szponów jak kły i tnących szczęk!
Drżyj, gdy nadpełga Banderzwież
Lub Dżubdżub ptakojęk”

W dłoń ujął migbłystalny miecz,
Za swym pogromnym wrogiem mknie…
Stłumiwszy gniew, wśród Tumtum drzew
W zadumie ukrył się.

Gdy w czarsmutśleniu cichym stał,
Płomiennooki Dżabbersmok
Zagrzmudnił pośród srożnych skał,
Sapgulcząc poprzez mrok!

Raźdwa! Raźdwa! I ciach! I ciach!
Miecz migbłystalny świstotnie!
Leb uciął mu, wziął i co tchu
Galumfująco mknie.

“Cudobry mój, uścisńij mnie,
Gdy Dżabbersmoka ściął twój cios!
O wielny dniu! Kalej! Kalu!”
śmieselił się rad w głos.

Było smaszno, a jaszmije smukwijne
Świdrokrętnie na zegwniku wężały,
Peliczaple stały smutcholijne
I zbłąkinie rykoświstąkały.

If you’re a technical kind of person, I’m sure you’d find the parodies section highly amusing, particularly this version:

Browser Mocky, by “Abacus”

‘Twas busy, and the server tones,
Did beep and buzz all day,
All satisfied were the Netscape users,
And JAVA was okay.

Beware the Browser Mock, my client,
The contracts bind, the pages crash,
Beware Bill Gates, the software giant,
And all his monopoly trash.

They took their presentation boards in hand,
Long time they battled in court,
So struggled on the lawyer band,
Whining as their last resort.

Computer buyers stood aghast,
The Browser Mock, with exploiting ad,
Said that Netscape could not last,
And that made the clients mad!

Internet Exploiter! We hate you!
The browser market was taken back!
A cream pie flew; Bill Gates will sue,
But it made a triumphant whack!

And hast thou deleted the Browser Mock?
Come to my webpage Netscape friend,
And all the JAVA script will rock!
The joyful E-mail will even send!

‘Twas busy, and the server tones,
Did beep and buzz all day,
All satisfied were the Netscape users,
And JAVA was okay.

——–

Anyway, the reason for me mentioning the fact that I had found a German translation of perhaps my favourite poem is the conversation I then had with a friend of mine who told me not to confuse it with the Bavarian word “Zipfel”. “Zipfel” is the Bavarian slang equivalent to “knob” in English. So potentially to a Bavarian, one of the most fearful creatures of my childhood could theoretically be reduced to “knobhead”. He then went on to explain the etymology of the word “Zipfel” and its Mittelalt Deutsch roots. At which point I asked him how it was that he came to know the etymology of such a word – to me, it simply said that 1) he’s a bit weird, and 2) he simply has far too much time on his hands.

The explanation, however, was far more reassuring. He had to translate a medieval German text into Modern German whilst doing his degree. The text, I subsequently discovered, is one of the most bizarre, mind-boggling pieces of literature I think I have ever come across.

The text in question is “Das Nonnenturnier”, which translates roughly as “Nun tournament”. If you think the title’s weird, you wait until I tell you about the plot. I swear you cannot make this stuff up.

Maybe I ought to switch my area of interest from linguistics to literature?

So, the plot goes like this:

There once was a knight who was very popular with women because he was so well endowed. But because this was the only reason why he was popular, he became very depressed.

Now, at this point, I turned to my friend and pointed out that I know several gents who would be more than happy to be in that situation, and I am pretty sure that depressed is the last thing that they would become. But it now starts to get really strange.

In fact, he was so depressed about the whole thing and no longer wanted to be seen as a sexual object, OH THE IRONY. Us women are such users. he decided to lop the bloody thing off.

At which point I simply looked at my friend completely dumbfounded and uttered one word: WHY?

Now, although said appendage was no longer attached, women still wanted it and pursued the knight across the country.

Because, you know, as a woman, controlling my libido is quite frankly beyond me and it’s the only thing on my mind.

He then decided to hide it. In a nunnery. Up a nun’s skirt.

Now, I’m no expert, but I would assume that as a nun, hiding something of that nature up your skirt has several implications. Forget the hygiene issues of hiding amputated male genitalia underneath your skirt, think about the practical implications – mostly how you hide it up your skirt. Somehow I doubt you’d still qualify as a nun. Just putting that thought out there.

So now that the presumed “ex-nun” had decided to almost certainly break a few fundamental convent rules, the knight left his “Zipfel” under her skirt and went off to do heroic deeds and thereby become recognised for the heroic and exemplary individual that he obviously was.

Except the “Zipfel” didn’t like being under her skirt (funnily enough). So it told her and then ran off (Oh, did I forget to mention that this thing could talk and move independently?) – the resulting chaos being a battle-royale of sorts amongst the nuns when it came to light exactly what had been hidden.

At least, I think that’s a plotted synopsis. I stopped listening part-way through because I was laughing too much and my brain was in melt-down while it tried to comprehend the obviously drug-induced plot.

So, with that lovely mental image, I shall leave you all to enjoy your Friday evenings and hope you all have a relaxing weekend.

Preferably without nuns.

Oh, and for those of you who come across my site whilst searching for pictures of raccoons, here’s one for you crazies:

Sleepy raccoon
Sleepeh.

Travellings: Deutschland #19

Today has been one hell of a Monday. Apart from a few amusing news articles and yet another language howler which resulted in more hysterics and thereby proving that I should not be left to fend for myself in a foreign country, let alone be asked to work with people, I think I can safely say that today is not my day – albeit with an equine theme.

The first thing that made me spit out my water (because I left the sodding tea bags at home) was the discovery of this article on the BBC about ear guaging, or how to stretch an ear piercing until you can pretty much fit small animals through it. Which was fine and seemed perfectly normal until I came across this phrase nestled innocently amongst its neighbours:

“American rapper Travie McCoy and American singer Adam Lambert are also stretching devotees. British fashion expert Gok Wan is also partial to large wooden ear plug adornments but it is not known if these are being used to stretch his lobe.”

I would like to draw your attention to the second sentence and point out, that yes, this article is still live on their website. That’s a bit cheeky, Beeb. Cheekier than I would expect you to be.

I then (fortunately after lunch) came across following article on The Register, which discusses the use of certain equine bodily fluids as aphrodisiacs in New Zealand.

I dread to think what this is going to look like for anyone looking at my browser history. I swear to God I came across it entirely by accident.

I was later asked if I knew if it was possible to connect a Mac monitor to a Windows PC as an additional monitor. I then asked which connections it had, except I wasn’t sure of the word I was looking for and ended up mis-pronouncing the word for plug.

So instead of saying “Stecker”, I said “Stecher”.

“Stecher” means stallion, but of the human-kind – or, as dict.cc described it: “für einen Mann mit hoher sexueller Leistungsbereitschaft”. You’ve got to love German; I mean, in which other language do you know can two and three letters have such a profound influence over the meaning of a word/phrase?

If the example above doesn’t illustrate my point enough, then please carry on reading:

“Verhältnis mit jdm haben” (to be involved with someone) and “Verhältnis zu jdm haben” (to be related to someone).

Small letters, big difference.

German language: 4, Becca: 0.

Travellings: Deutschland #18

I don’t like Mondays.

To add to the general insult of being forcibly removed from my beloved bed when it was still dark this morning, I have also discovered that I’ve run out of tea. My main stash is at home.

Seriously. Words fail me.

Oh, and you know the year abroad has finally gotten to you when you start dreaming in German.

My head hurts :(

I think I’m off to stroke something furry.

Sushi, aka Misz. Cat-napping partner in crime extraordinaire.

Travellings: Deutschland #17/Musings #7

I was on the tube on Thursday mulling over various unhinged thoughts in my little head when something insanely obvious jumped out and smacked me right in the face with a wet fish. Hard.

Fish slapping

I have been misplaced.

By misplaced, I mean when you’re about 9 (or in my case, 20) and you can’t find a particular (and often very important) document/possession. Naturally, you go to mum/dad/the nearest responsible adult and bemoan the fact that you’ve lost said item, only to receive the following unhelpful response, which is usually accompanied by a sigh:

“Are you sure you haven’t misplaced it?”

At which point you indignantly reply that no, you certainly have not misplaced it and then give them a reproachful look in an attempt to make them feel bad for making such a ludicrous and hurtful allegation, only for them to go and find said missing item in the first place they look.

Anyway, back to me being misplaced.

At first, I thought I was homesick. Wednesday was another howler of a day and so I decided to speak with family back home. It consisted of The Leggings Incident, The Mosquito War and an unfortunate trip to the supermarket.

Firstly, The Leggings Incident:

On Tuesday, I decided to go and buy a cardigan after work, except that failed miserably and I ended up buying legwarmers and leggings which were in a sale. I then decided to wear the red pair – yes, I actually have something colourful in my wardrobe – to work yesterday. Now, I’m incredibly lazy when it comes to my appearance, (as my father will confirm) and so I decided to wear a long sleeve t-shirt instead of a tunic – the length of this particular item is key. If you pull it down far enough, it comes just short of half-way down my thigh.

So, yesterday morning I got up (in the dark) and got dressed (in the dark – because I’m lazy thinking of the environment and saving energy) and went to work. I did get a few odd looks on the tube, but this isn’t particularly unusual, so I didn’t pay any attention.

I then spent the morning working and attending various meetings with colleagues as usual. At lunchtime, I went to the loo and discovered – much to my absolute horror – that my leggings were opaque on my lower legs, but the higher up my leg, the more transparent they became.

The looks on the tube this morning were because you could clearly see my underwear through my leggings. Mortified, my face promptly turned the colour of said offending item of clothing.

Leggings Incident

Cue walking around for the rest of the day trying to pull my top down far enough to cover the tattered remains of my dignity:

Leggings Incident 2
Subtil.

I then had to go to the supermarket on the way home and in true keeping with the day, I got to the till and realised I had no money on me. I had to run home, grab my wallet and then run back.

When I got home, I then had the Mosquito War. For the past few days, I’ve been waking up each morning with insect bites, which is rather confusing given the time of year – but not when you realise that the weather has been uncharacteristically warm as of late. The thing is, back home in England, the mosquitos/bitey insects there were typically British and we had an understanding: you don’t touch me, I won’t kill you.

Mosquito
Yes, he has a pipe. No, don't try to understand.

I’d just gotten out of the shower and was getting dressed in my room when I noticed the little bastard hanging upside-down from my ceiling:

Mosquito War 1

What happened next can only be described as an epic battle of titans.

Epic battle of titans

My eventual victory, however, was short-lived.

Victory

Whilst I had remembered to shut my bedroom door, I hadn’t shut the curtain to my balcony. Being on the 4th floor, this wouldn’t normally be a problem. But because I was obviously having such an underwear-orientated day, it would just so happen that we currently have builders working on scaffolding directly opposite and they’d seen the entire debacle of me half-dressed, seemingly dismantling my bedroom single-handedly, all the while waving an old newspaper around.

Needless to say, I was disctinctly unamused.

I then decided to ring home and whinge/laugh/cry about the utter rubbishness of it all. After an hour or so of singing to/with my Grandmother and catching up on all of the adventures and happenings back home, I felt…weird.

Which is where my original statement about being misplaced comes into play (if you can remember that far back). Living here in Munich is interesting. I don’t know any other country which can have an international stereotype of being so straight-laced, (and here in Bayern) religious, and yet is still perhaps the only place in Europe where an annual beer festival can take place for 3 weeks without people rioting and the whole place being burnt down to the ground. The public transport is generally on time (I hope you’re reading this, TfL), clean – at least, by British standards – and efficient.

In short, it’s clean, orderly and I swear that it even occasionally has that “new car” smell to it. The streets are built in the rather American grid-like layout, so should you miss a street, then you can easily turn down the next one and the buildings still have something of their original colour to them.

In other words, I currently feel like the child who has forcibly been made to relinquish their favourite, much-loved and lived-in slobby jumper for a brand-new, smart looking suit that itches and is bloody uncomfortable.

Or you could compare it to being the messy person who’s just been invited in to the living room of their OCD colleague/friend and then feels horribly uncomfortable and out of place.

I don’t belong here in the orderly and the clean; I belong in the mess, the chaos and the dog-eared.

Don’t get me wrong – London is far from perfect. I have slowly been learning that there is no such thing as absolute perfection. (Which, as a perfectionist, has been exceptionally hard to grasp) London is grimy and sooty; the transport system is an absolute shambles and everything is mind-bogglingly expensive. Yet it has a certain dog-eared quality to it that your favourite teddy has. I bet your favourite teddy isn’t looking anywhere near as clean as he did the day you first got him.

I like the chaotic layout of the streets, too. It makes getting lost interesting and you also never quite know what you’re going to find on account of the vast mix of cultures we have. I like it when the weather’s cloudy, drizzly and a little nippy – it’s what London’s known for. But most of all, it’s the character that the city has – the intricate gothic architecture, the historical sites and the quirky little things like the Jewish cemetery in the middle of my university campus.

I moved to London about 2 years ago to start my degree, and I guess the reason I miss the place so much is because I associate it with feeling like I truly belong somewhere for the first time in my life.

I enjoy what I do and I have met some of the most amazing, genuine, intelligent and inspiring people there.

In other words, it’s home.

So, my course of action? Why, sulk, of course.

That, and maybe some slightly inebriated singing along to Adele’s Hometown Glory in my room this evening. And maybe tomorrow, too.

Or just all week.

Because the problem isn’t just that I’m misplaced.
London’s calling.

Travellings: Deutschland #16 The intricacies of German breakfast

Last night was one of the best nights I’ve had since moving to Germany. Shame Doriane has decided to leave this morning, really. It started off with a roast dinner – I think the first one I’ve cooked since first year – and was swiftly followed by gin and the phrase “Wo ist der Gin hin?”

We then had a somewhat surreal call and response singing session with a flat in one of the neighbouring blocks. Things started to go decidely downhill when we rang out of songs and decided to sing the Breadfish song at them.

Over breakfast this morning, my long-suffering flatmate decided to try and explain to me the different expressions I should use when applying something to bread. I say apply, because the English word “spread” simply does not cover the various different expressions.

So, the rules are as follows:

Items such as Nutella, Ovalmaltine, and jam are called “Aufstrich”, so naturally I assumed it would be logical to use “aufstreichen”. However I was then told that you can’t say “I streiche my bread auf”. (Well you can, but you’ll sound weird) You say, more bizarrely, “I schmiere my bread”. Schmieren also has the meanings “to grease or lubricate”.

So this morning I learnt what the Germans do with their bread: lubricate it.

For the record, if you use anstreichen, you’re painting a wall. Not your bread.

But you must be careful, because you can also schmier a person in the sense of “to bribe”.

So make sure you only schmier your bread.

And then I found the word “beschmieren”, which apparently means the same thing, but whilst you can beschmier a wall, you can’t simply schmier it. But only use beschmieren when it’s verunstaltet or ugly.

Oh, and then there are certain salads which you can also schmier on your bread, even though you have to use a spoon.

For what is thought to be such a logical language, German really isn’t making much sense right now.

Anyway, back to breakfast. Sliced meats are then referred to as Aufschnitt. This is unschmierbar unless it is Leberwurst oder Teewurst, in which case it’s streichbar. For Aufschnitt you don’t really have a verb. Spoilsports.

Then there’s Schmierkäse, which is the same as fresh cheese. Which I’ve just been told can also be eaten with jam. Jam. Schmelzkäse also exists, as does Rotschmierkäse, which translates as the delightful “red smear cheese”.

Hmm, tasty.

Then there’s bread. Here in Bayern, everything is a Semmel.
Go north and say that and you’ll immediately stand out. Brötchen is probably the best one to go for.

All I wanted was marmite on toast for breakfast.

Today I am an owl

Travellings: Deutschland #15

During the past 2 days I’ve made several discoveries which more than make up for the horrific week I’ve had.

1) I don’t need to get the tv in my room working in order to gammeln with my flatmate on a Sunday and watch Tatort – we can simply stream it online. (Yes, for someone who can be technologically-minded at times, this has taken a while to occur to me)

For those of you who don’t know, Tatort is one of Germany’s longest running crime series, (it started in 1970) with each Bundesland having it’s own characters and plotlines. From what I’ve understood, it’s a proper “sit down with the family on a Sunday evening and watch it together” affair. It kind of seems like the German version of Eastenders, in that it seems to popular with the masses. In which case that says a lot about British society and the vast contrast between the 2 countries, but I don’t think I’m going to go there in this post…

2) Amazon.de is surprisingly efficient. Jokes about the German national stereotype aside, I was genuinely impressed with the fact that I ordered my 1Tb external harddrive yesterday at 3:30pm (work is always so busy on Fridays) and it arrived this morning via grouchy courrier. Cue strange crooning noises and me referring to it as my child. Doriane has now decided to call me “Beek”. (Becca + geek)

3) Said external harddrive is called a “passport” because it’s reported to be the same size. They weren’t kidding:

Passport external harddrive
Maybe they were referring to a midget's passport?

4) When coming back at stupid o’clock from the pub with Doriane and Cathrin, making “shussshhhh” noises followed by a Gollum impression is not the way to avoid waking our sleeping flatmate.

5)Never, EVER let Herr Ben le Magnifique persuade me to do anything on the basis that it counts towards “personal development”. I do not call being strapped in to a small heap of metal and whizzing around upside down and all over the place at high speeds and heights “personal development”. Even if it did give me an excuse to hurl abuse at Ben for the entire duration.

6) But what has really made my week, is the discovery today of somewhere in Munich which SELLS BOMBAY SAPPHIRE. Yes, it requires bold font and capitals. You have no idea how long I have been searching for this stuff. None of this Gordon’s Gin business, thank you very much. I’m not a heavy drinker. In fact, I seldom enjoy drinking alcohol, so I am completely baffled by the sudden improvement in my mood. Not that I’m complaining, mind.

Life seems somewhat better than it did at the beginning of the week: Monday is Feiertag (Bank holiday), I now have Bombay Sapphire in the kitchen, tomorrow I’m cooking a roast and I can finally start learning the Yiddish I need for this Fortsetzungskurs.

Oh, and I don’t have to get up at 6am for the next 2 days either.

Result.

Chrono-Syntactic Infandibulum Link #8

Yet another one of my preconceptions was shattered today.

One: there is a German word for fluffy.

Two: there is also a word in German for supercalifragilicousexpialidocious.

If you’re wondering how it’s spelt, it’s “superkalifragilistigexpialigetisch”.

Also, have you seen the marvelous breadfish?

Inane Whittering #God only knows

Are you a computermabob person?

Good, because in that case, I need YOU.

If not, then my apologies because the rest of this post will probably make even less sense to you than my “normal” entries.

Please note that yes, this is work related, but only because I’m not sure how to approach the problem and seeing as I will most likely learn something from this, I thought it was appropriate to post it here.

Right, so being the lowly Praktikantin, I have been given the joyous task of compiling a list of contacts and their information for an event we’re planning.

My problem is that we have 9 files with various contacts in, and a master document with 22 sheets in it. The number of entries goes into the thousands.

The challenge?

To concatonate concatEnate (better, Wuzel?) ALL the data (whilst keeping the 22 sheets in the master) into one document with unique information, i.e. without duplicate contacts.

So far, I have reached the point where I understand that I either need to write a programme to do it for me (because I have no intention of getting square eyes or worsening the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that is currently plaguing both my wrists and forearms worse than God’s vengeance on the Egyptians in the Bible) OR, I can use the vba function in Excel to do the work for me.

Because, you know, the computer’s just sitting there running a browser so I can stare at facebook work, it could be pulling its weight.

So, Oh Wise Ones, what I’m looking for are any hints or tips for a newbie such as myself on how to tackle the beast – do I concatonate each sheet in a separate workbook and then merge the workbooks, or is there a better way? Or any decent places online for tutorials. I would say books, but I already have far too many of those for my box here in Munich and getting stuff delivered from Amazon.co.uk isn’t easy here.

The reward?

I’ve yet to decide, but it will probably involve a penguin, a teapot, a shaved gorrilla some chocolate and my extreme gratitude.

And maybe a furry.