Memories of Mountains and Mint Choc Chip

This time last year, I was living in Konstanz, southern Germany, on a glorious lake. During the six months or so that I lived there, I spent so much time strolling around and running to catch last minute buses and trains that I managed to wear out several pairs of ballet flats – including my sparkly Dorothy style ruby red flats They turned from being wonderfully sparkly to quite grungy and started to look like a house had fallen on top of them. But enough about shoes.

My apartment, if you can call it that (it was more of a box, but a very joyous box) was five minutes away from the University, and was set against a dramatic woodland backdrop, but was within reasonable walking distance of the lake. Everytime I walked to Uni, I felt a little bit like I was channeling Katniss Everdeen, and that I was in ‘The Hunger Games’. It was only a five minute walk, but the hilly winding trail would envelop you with trees, trees that seemed to be amongst the clouds and I would always feel as if civilisation was miles away. I’ll always remember those morning strolls, the days where I didn’t decide to ‘surf’ on the bus to class. Sometimes I’d walk with my romanian pal Codrin, and we’d talk about buying a horse to share with the residence, so that we could ride to and from the campus. Perhaps not one of our better ideas. From the town centre, I could walk to Switzerland and back in half an hour (“Sorry I’m late, I got lost in Switzerland“, “We thought we’d walk home after the club, but we accidentally ended up in Switzerland” became pretty common Erasmus student utterances during my time in Konstanz)

The town centre of Konstanz itself was quaint, with a beautiful grey Cathedral in the old quarter, the main street being home to buskers and bizarre sculptures. On my very first full day in Konstanz, I saw a camel in the street. I do not lie. It was surreal – I’d just been to a swiss IKEA with my friend Isabella and we returned to Konstanz to find a camel just casually standing there in the street being all sassy. What is more, on the way home from our journey over the border in Isa’s car, we got a bit side tracked in the swiss mountains – and once you’re in the mountain labyrinth, you can not just simply turn back. You have to keep going, onwards and upwards, travelling on the narrowest roads with hairpin bends. In the blink of an eye, from being on the German motorway, you feel suddenly as if you are in an alpine picture postcard. We saw so many chalets with swiss flags, and snow covering the highest peaks of the mountains. The weirdest part was seeing a snowy part of the mountains covered in llamas. To return from witnessing llamas in Switzerland to seeing a camel in Germany was quite bizarre. I wouldn’t say that either of those animals were creatures that I would associate with either country…

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A photo of beautiful Konstanz. A serene lakeside harbour, surrounded by snowcapped mountains…

And ice cream parlours! Did you see that coming?

Ice cream is a big thing in Germany. It seemed to be a habitual thing in Konstanz to go out for a chat with friends and grab an ice cream instead. Not so good for the waistline but a great boost for your wellbeing! That’s how I viewed it anyway. Priced between 80-90 cents for a scoop, I got to try lots of great flavours, from standard ones such as banana, to less conventional flavours such as kiwi and kinder chocolate.

Apparently, when I was younger, I always wanted to travel to America, purely so that I could have an ice cream party. I blame this on perhaps reading too many “The Saddle Club” books. They were not my favourite series of books growing up, I generally preferred boarding school stories, like “Malory Towers” or classics like “Heidi“, “A Little Princess“, “What Katy did“, but when I was about 10, I thought that I had discovered the wonderful life of a modern American girl through “The Saddle Club“, endless chronicles of girlhood which I would read tucked into an alcove at the library, or at sleepovers with a torch when everyone else at the party had finally crashed out. The characters in the books would invariably end up in an ice cream parlour after a day of capers riding their horses and setting the world to rights. They’d tuck into insane sundaes full of sprinkles, chopped pecans and maraschino cherries.

I dreamed of those sundaes. Maybe one day, I’ll get to eat a real north american style sundae – I remember ordering a hot fudge sundae in Canada, taking one bite and my taste buds exploding with rapture, but sadly not being able to tackle anymore than that one spoonful. I guess the moral of the story is not to fill up on a burger and fruit punch beforehand, otherwise there will be not even a millimetre of space for glorious sundaes.

As a reward for reaching this far down this post, I’ll tell you a secret… my all time favourite ice cream. *Drumroll….. takataktakataktakatakkkkkkk*

Citron/Fraise, glace à l’italienne from Manuel – a sweet shop in La Baule. The ice-cream of nine summers. The Holy Grail of ice creams.

And if I can’t have that, then I guess I will settle for a mint choc chip cornetto…

Well, that’s all for now! I apologise for the random dashes from topic to topic. I guess my blog posts reflect my character. Just like Mary Poppins, you’ll never know what miscellaneous object I’m about to pull out of my purple satchel….. or what topic I’m going to write about!

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Train Journey

I was at the station, sat down at a table, nervously eyeing the clock and my suitcase. My hands clutched a diabolo fraise, a childhood favourite, a drink that could have easily  been prepared at home in advance,  but the purchase  justified my use of a table and more importantly, a seat, in the crowded station café. I didn’t want to sit on my suitcase in a drab corner. The drink was extortionately priced, although looking back now, I can’t remember offhand how much I paid, but I do remember savouring each drop, hoping to make my lemonade and syrup last for another half hour. My nails had been painted with alternating layers of two new polishes, and they glittered blue, like rays of sunshine catching waves on the sea, every now and then, glimmers of little fish swimming underneath. The nails clashed with the bright red bubbles of my drink and with my hot pink book on the table in front of me, but I was excited and felt sophisticated – leaving the lush green volcanic hills of Clermont for a little while to return to Paris. Paris, a city of elegance, with grungy and crowded metro trains, busy streets and the grime that you will find in any major city lurking underneath the glossy lacquer of chic that is advertised in tourist brochures. Paris, where lovers, artists and ambitious workers go to join the rat race, and to find the dreams that they seek…

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I have been back home for 15 days now (and have a lot of work to complete before I return back for the last term of Uni, garrrrgh) Home is pretty grand. I have been enjoying the company of my family, friends… and books. Todays heralds the beginning of a new month – the first of April, that day of the year where you have to look for joke articles in the newspapers, take bad news with a pinch of salt and let all the Easter chocolate slowly slink down your throat to your thighs. March is over, spring has supposedly sprung, although I think the whole of the United Kingdom begs to differ, and creme eggs are passé (it’s ok, I prefer Kinder Surprise anyway).

Yesterday was Easter Sunday – I’m 22, my brother is 15, we’re old and yet we still searched for eggs in the garden. Last year I was in Germany and had to make do with coloured boiled eggs placed on the shelves in my flat rather than an Easter Egg hunt in the garden – so it was nice to revive a tradition of old.

I tried and failed to get a sweet Easter style picture of Chino. Turns out rabbits won’t pose adorably with chocolate eggs. They will try and eat the eggs because, surprise, bunnies love chocolate. The eggs, however, escaped unscathed and poor Chino was placed behind bars.

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He is ridiculously cute, I know, I know, and please rest assured, he did not remain under capture for long. In the late afternoon, I went to my aunt’s, as it was her birthday – she’s a cake baker extraordinaire, as I mentioned in my first ever post, and on this occasion  she’d made a particularly wondrous cake, which was Easter themed, as you can see below.

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Tonight I’m going out for a German meal – I’m looking forward in particular to the dessert on the menu (because I obviously have not had enough chocolate or cake over the weekend)
The dessert is described ainsi

“Poor Knights ( German Version of French Toast ) “Easter Style “ with Cinammon Sugar and Vanilla Ice Cream
Arme Ritter “Auf Oster Art “ mit Zimt Zucker und Vanille Eis”

When I lived in Konstanz, my friend Flo used to make French toast for Anne Ce and I all the time – I’d go so far as to say that it became a staple part of Anne Ce’s diet. And ice cream was a part of mine…. Konstanz has great ice cream parlours! In any case I am really looking forward to trying the version that will be served up tonight – and savouring a little bit of the past! (how very Proustian).

Besides spending time thinking about food… and chocolate, I have been enjoying BBC iplayer – in particular “In the Flesh”, a three part mini series about Zombies (or sufferers of PDS – Partially Deceased Syndrome) and the return of “Doctor Who”. Luke Newberry was outstanding in his role as tormented Kieran Walker – the last episode of the series was emotionally charged, with an important message about mental health issues. If you’re into the supernatural and psychology, then I would definitely give it a watch.

Well, on that note, I’m off to prepare my face for the German meal…. here’s hoping the French toast lives up to my expectations!

When everyone sleeps…

It’s twenty to three in the morning. I’m sat cross-legged on my bed with a mint hot chocolate in an Aristocats mug. It has the diva kitten Marie on it and was purchased in February. Did I need another mug? No. But I can never deny my inner child a visit into the lair of the Disney Store, what is more, I always want to leave clutching something, and who can turn down Marie?

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“The Aristocats”, or “Les Aristochats” as my mum calls it, is one of my all time favourite films. When I was younger, we used to watch it together, and our favourite part to this day remains the instrumental accompanying alcoholic goose Uncle Waldo… and his nieces Amelia and Abigail. I think the film has wonderful songs and vocals throughout -who can fail to be roused by “Everybody wants to be a cat”, or charmed by the silky smooth voice of Duchess, voiced by Eva Gabor (who also provided the voice for another sophisticated lady, Miss Bianca from “The Rescuers”, another childhood favourite of mine)


I think out of all the characters, I probably identify the most with… *drumroll* precocious Marie and artistic Toulouse…
The sequences with the kittens around the piano always makes me laugh – Toulouse, in creating his masterpieces, gets paint everywhere. I’m no Picasso but I am also guilty of this crime, as my family would be able to ascertain to you!  I get paint absolutely everywhere!  Including on the walls, my face, my clothes and this one time the inside of a freezer, but that is a story I won’t elaborate upon today…

 

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Do you have a favourite film from your childhood that you still like to watch today? I am definitely guilty of overindulging in classic Disney films – there is an entrancing beauty in the animation of their hand drawn art.

I’ll leave you with a picture of another (much earlier) Disney Store cat purchase – Clarence the cheshire cat, posing with some macarons from Guernsey!
(With regards to identifying with this character…well I guess we share bizarre sleep patterns and big eyebrows!)
Ciao!

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(a gratuitous inclusion of my face, including aforementioned cheshire cat eyebrows and an outfit I enjoy)

“Men say it’s criminal what women will do…

…What they’re forgetting is,  this is 1922!”

Somewhere in the archives, there is a photograph of me aged 15 in a flapper outfit and bob wig performing songs from “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. Well, you may not feast your eyes on that old treat but here for your eyes only is a 22 year old toned down version of a 1920s moi. This outfit was pulled together in about ten minutes for a 1920s evening that was held in my college.

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I’ve even thrown in a pout, pearls and a feather collar! I also had a feather boa which I lent to a friend visiting from Guernsey … there were feathers all over my room for days!

PS. Watch “Thoroughly Modern Millie” if you get a chance. It stars a young Julie Andrews and the hilarious Carol Channing, who originated the role of ‘Dolly’ in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ on Broadway.

Growing up Guernsey

‘Sarnia Cherie. Gem of the sea.
Home of my childhood, my heart longs for thee.
Thy voice calls me ever, forget thee I’ll never,
Island of beauty. Sarnia Cherie.’

 As a little girl, growing up in the Channel Islands, I always used to gaze out to sea and daydream of places that I had visited and other lands yet to be discovered. I caught the travel bug at a young age – having family that lived abroad meant that my first ever flight was at the age of three months old, and now at the age of 22, I find comfort in travelling – comfort in the routine of waiting in airport departure lounges and harbours and in the thrill of embarking on a new journey.

My late grandfather was an aircraft engineer, who lived a stone’s throw away from the airfield in Guernsey, and I remember always feeling secure in the knowledge that I would be able to catch a glimpse of my grandparents waving ‘goodbye’ (or ‘hello’ on the return voyage) when I was in a tiny tin can of an airplane. Voyaging is something I savour. I am always going to want to travel, yet I also love the feeling of ‘coming home’. Gliding over the sea in a plane and having the whole of Guernsey suddenly come into sight is always something that makes me catch my breath.

At 16, I started working a weekend job in the tourism industry as a museum assistant – this became a summer job and is something that was a part of my life for six years. Through this student job, I met many tourists from different corners of the world and it led me to appreciate the island from a touristic point of view. For those curious as to what Island living is like, I will include a selection of photos that I took during the past summer in Guernsey in my next post… for now, here is a taster – a photo of Fermain Bay.


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