Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The funny things 3-year-olds say - Part 1

As the boys are getting older, I am continually fascinated by their take on the world. They seem so grown up in some ways.  The other thing I have noticed is how hard the English language is to understand.

Bob L and Bob D are both in German Kindergarten so are trying to get to grips with two languages - well I say trying but it seems to come pretty naturally to them, unlike me!

Over the past few months I have been keeping a selection of my favourite quotes so far:

1. me: "Give it some welly", Bob: "Please can you get me my wellies then"

2. me: "it drives me up the wall", Bob: "Which one mummy?"

3. me: "you are my son and I am your mummy", Bob: "silly mummy, the sun is high in the sky and I am down here on the floor"

It has proved to me that getting to grips with language is hard, in English one word can mean so many different things.

Cant wait to see what the boys have to say next!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

New Year, New Start, Same Old Resolutions?

Happy New Year!

Reflecting back on 2015, it was for the most part a good year.  No year is without its difficulties but in comparison to previous years it was certainly one of the better ones!  

It strikes me that most people are glad to see that back of a year when the time comes, looking forward to a new year and a fresh start.  A year is a long time, with ups and downs just part of life.

In keeping with positivity that I feel at the moment, I wanted to reflect on the good things that happened in 2015, I started a new job which I am enjoying and we had some fabulous holidays this year including a great trip back to the UK where we got to see lots of family and friends.  

The boys have hit an age where you can speak to them and find out how their brains work.  I find it fascinating as they get to grips with the English language.  I love this age, it is my favourite so far, although my husband will say that I have said that at every age - I do not remember saying it in the first few months though that is for sure!  

I am looking forward to 2016, I can't wait to continue to explore this amazing and complicated world with the boys.  

As for resolutions, I did start the year with the usual, lose weight (a must after the Christmas indulgence), do more exercise, eat better.... in other words the same old resolutions that I have every year.  However, I have decided that instead of this my resolution is to enjoy each day with the boys, yes even when my patience is running thin....

Saturday, 19 December 2015


In October this year we visited Amsterdam.  I have a new obsession at the moment, Airbnb, and we found a great apartment just 20 minutes walk from central station.  Having had a few experiences in hotels with young children we find apartments easier.

 We were in Amsterdam to meet up with an old friend of ours from the Glasgow years.  We had not seen him in 10 years, he lives in New Zealand, which seems like a long time now I have put it in writing!  It was lovely to get a weekend break and also get to catch up with him.

We visited Amsterdam around 11 years ago, way before kids and any kind of responsibility.  It was a slightly different experience coming here with the boys, no late night drinking and more early morning coffee / breakfast with a view over the canals.

After arriving on the Friday, we headed out to a steak house to have some dinner.  The boys had a great time, keeping the waitress entertained with their dancing.

The next day we were up and out early, we wandered the streets surrounding Central Station until we stumbled upon the boat canal cruises.  The kids love boats so we decided to spend an hour seeing the sights from the water.  The boys, mesmerised by the experience, actually sat still for an hour for the cruise.  The boat trip didn't just provide beautiful scenery but we also had a tour guide who told us all about the area and the things to look out for.  After a conversation earlier in the day about how many people accidentally drive into the canal, the tour guide helpfully told us it was 1 a week.  Quite a high number.  I do wonder if that number is even higher for wasted pedestrians!

After the boat trip and lunch, the boys were getting a bit grumpy and we were a little fed up with negotiating a double buggy around the small, busy pavements.  So we headed back to a soft play area, TunFun, so we could all burn of some steam.  What we hadn't quite expected was the size of the place, it was massive like a soft play village.

I have to admit I am not a huge fan of soft play, I am sure when the kids are older and they can go on everything themselves then I will enjoy going more.  As it stands I find it tiring and frustrating crawling, climbing and jumping after a hyper three-year-old trying to make sure they don't get stuck, while the whole time realising that if anyone is going to get stuck it will probably be me!

 What I loved about this place was that there were different areas for a range of ages.  Which meant I still had to embarrass myself by 'helping' Bob L on the larger play areas (we tag-team by the way, in case you wondered why I am only talk about helping one child) but it also meant there were a couple of climbing frames that they could go on 'all by self', as Bob D would say. This was great and meant I only had to wait at the bottom of the slide, to catch Bob L who was so hyper he was throwing himself down head first.

After we left we were all tired and the afternoons activities meant Bob L and Bob D went straight to sleep that night.  This is rare on holiday, normally when they are in a new place, the boys are up and down like yo-yo's and I have to spend hours in the room with them convincing them that they are not missing out on anything.
That evening our friend arrived and we enjoyed a glass of wine and had a chat trying to remember what has gone on in the last ten years, which is quite a lot once you get started, 6 kids between us for a start!

The next day we went off wandering,  with our friend trying to stave of the jet-lag.  We visited a great cheese shop, one of many, and managed to purchase a great selection to bring home with  us.  We then had a lovely walk around a park and managed to get some lovely photos.

The weekend being over all too soon, Monday was soon upon us and we had to pack up the car, wish our friend farewell and head home.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Tier park Bielefeld

It has occurred to me that despite being here for two years and writing my blog for the same amount of time, I haven't done a post about the Tierpark in Bielefeld, which is strange as it is definitely one of our favourite places to visit.

The Tierpark, which is open all year round, has a wide selection of animals, including birds, cows, brown bears and raccoons.  The park is massive and a great place to go for a walk on a Sunday afternoon when you want to get out of the office before your Sunday roast.

The bears are a definite highlight, and visitors gather to watch them go about their daily business, although they do hibernate in the winter so you can only see them at certain times of the day.

There are a couple of good size play parks and a goat petting zoo.

If you keep an eye out in the local news, you might be able to catch some of the events that go on at the Tierpark, the last time we saw a puppet show.

There is a great restaurant on-site which has a brilliant play-area, which we didn't see the first couple of times we went.    The restaurant has a good selection of food and drinks, if you are visiting why not try out a bowl of warming milchreis washed down with a good cup of coffee?

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Peppa Pig World

In the summer we made the brave decision to take the boys to Peppa Pig world.  We were back in the UK for 2 weeks and after making the boys move home every few days we thought they deserved  a treat.

I have to admit that I was not sure the adults in the family would enjoy it but that was not the point - it was a  day out for Bob L and Bob D. As it turns out we had a fabulous day...

Luckily, we picked a beautiful day, the sun was out and there was not a cloud in the sky. Peppa Pig World is actually based within a much larger theme park, Paultons Park, so there were enough hair-raising rollercoasters to keep the big kid (i.e. hubby) happy.

As you enter Peppa Pig World, you are greeted with the slightly (!) annoying theme tune, which is played on repeat alongside some other 'classics', including the Birdie, Birdie, Woof, Woof song. If you are not familiar with this song,  play the below video so you can sample the delights and get it stuck in you head for weeks (don't say I didn't warn you!).

The constant music was all I can complain about. The rides were great, completely age appropriate and entertaining enough for us big kids too. We had heard reports of long queues and waiting for hours, but we were lucky enough to be able to go on a weekday outwith the school holidays, so the queues were manageable (15 mins).

We were amazed that our two waited to get on the rides but on hindsight there were plenty to watch and be amazed by, and although the songs were a bit wearing on the adults the boys loved dancing to them. Strangely for once Bob D didn't complain about the noise.
The highlight of the day was going into Peppa Pig's house, where Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig, Peppa and George were talking about pancakes.  The look of joy on the boys faces when we entered the house, made it worth every penny.

The boys talked about visiting Peppa and going into her house for weeks afterwards, even now when they watch the cartoon they say "we have been to her house mummy". 

There was an amazing selection in the gift shop, as you would expect, with loads of Peppa Pig memorabilia for kids to go crazy over.

A question that keeps coming up in our house at the moment is when will the boys start to have memories that they will keep forever. I certainly can remember bits from when I was three and we hope that they will always remember the lovely day we had here.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Wine Wonderland

When we found out we were moving to Germany I did have a concern as the Germans are not known for there wine. Whilst the hubby was thrilled at trying out all the German beers and experiencing Oktoberfest I thought, as a wine lover, what about me??

So imagine my surprise when I heard they held an annual wine festival. Every September the town centre is transformed into a wine wonderland, which was music to my ears!  For the festival the town is transformed with many stalls; all offering a fine selection of wines and food. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the Christmas markets, friendly and relaxed.

But what about the rest of the year I wondered....  until we discovered Jacques!  Jacques is a wine warehouse; although I fear calling it this doesn't do it justice. Visiting Jacques is an experience, the staff are very friendly, with lots of wine available from the reasonably priced, to the 'special occasion' bottles. You can ask to try any wine before you buy and as a member you get all sorts of perks, from a free bottle of wine some visits to wine tasting evenings. 

Suffice to say my fears have been calmed and I dispute the argument that Germany is just a beer drinking country! 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Bielefeld - it doesn't exist apparently!

When we first found out we were moving to Bielefeld, we were introduced to the German conspiracy theory: Bielefeld does not exist and is an illusion.

This claim dates back to 1994 and originated in the German Usenet.

German's often remark on it if you speak to anyone from outside the area, it has been used in the city's marketing and Chancellor Angela Merkel has even previously referred to it.  According to the guru that is Wikipedia, Bielefeld Council and tourist service have become pretty bored with the "you don't exist" letters and emails that it receives.

I can confirm, however, it very much does exist and a very lovely place it is too, or maybe I am part of the conspiracy?
A photo of Bielefeld - or is it?