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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Huzzah for Duzza

Because who doesn’t love snow and lecturers who give you carambar on a frosty morning?
For any French speakers out there, I include the hilariously bad joke that I discovered on my carambar wrapper…

Quel acteur est une copie de lui-même?
George Cloné

BADOM BOM TSCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Top notch entertainment from carambar, as always.

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Onto the main theme of this post…. SNOW. For someone who comes from an Island with quite a mild climate, where it almost never snows, I am always amazed by snow. (If ever a centimetre was to fall on Guernsey, radio warnings would go out ordering everyone to stay off the PERILOUSLY ICY roads. If this occurred during term time, we would get the day off school. I still have fond memories of these snow days… but all the snow would thaw by the end of the day)

IN DURHAM THERE IS REAL SNOW. THEY DON’T KNOW PERILOUS CONDITIONS. However I am no snow leopard. I am not used to these climes. And often, I become Bambi on ice. I slip, I slide, even when I am wearing Doc Martens.

Around this time last year, when I was living in France, I had the opportunity to go skiing for a day for the almost unbelievably low price of ten euros. I had such a brilliant time; eating st nectaire (cheese) in the mountains, wearing bright aqua salopettes, and trying to avoid causing collisions on the button lift (or as it is delicately known in French…the tire-fesse) Being surrounded by snow and chalets was an incredible feeling and I really hope to ski some more one day. But until now, just the sight of snow will suffice… However… although it is very beautiful in Durham, I still miss the snowcapped volcanoes of Clermont, the crisp icy feeling of walking home on powdered pavements after a midnight tram ride…. and I also miss the stunning view across the Bodensee of the snow covered mountains on the Swiss/German border of Konstanz.

I digress, here are some pictures of a snowy northern city.

(In the first picture…. has our stag mascot been visited by his friend the Yeti? This made me smile at ten am in the morning… small things!)

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The third picture down is the view from my window. Aren’t I lucky to have such a lovely fairytale view? (Maybe I am over exaggerating… it’s the snow that has gone to my head!)