The Last of Hamburg

I did admit that at the start of the week that I took a lot of photos of Hamburg.  Here are just a few more to take you into the weekend. I've since been told that Hamburg isn't really know for it's magical weather, but the three days we were there is was beautiful; sunny, blue skies, warm afternoons and cooler evenings. I came very close to falling in love with the place and have put it high on the list of places to "revisit"... someday.

Have a lovely weekend. I'm hoping to catch up on all the royal craziness tonight before heading out to enjoy (crossed-fingers) some more sunny weather on Saturday. What about you? Have you got caught up in the wedding-frenzy or are you refusing to join in? For as long as I can remember my Nana's kitchen always had a "Royals Calendar" lying about somewhere and I remember her crying in the carseat next to me when the newsman announced that Lady Diana had been killed in a car accident. I wonder what she'd think about Miss-Commoner-Cate marrying her Prince?


Hamburg Port

Spring at the Port
When I was little my parents were all about gender-neutral toys.  As well as having a Dolls House we had a Fisher Price Garage (complete with petrol station) and a Seaport.  The Seaport came with a big container ship, a dock where the Ship could harbour and a couple of Cranes for moving things on and off the Ship.  I had completely forgotton about this bit of my childhood until I visited Hamburg Port last weekend. Looking over the enormous Hamburg Hafen, the toy set and all the games I used to play with it came flooding back. Happy memories! I'd love to know if Mum has kept that toy amongst all our childhood treasures; would be nice to get it out again and see if it's as I remember it. Anyway, even over the Easter weekend the port was alive with the comings and goings of container ships. Hamburg's port really is still the heart of the city and we found ourselves coming back to the port repeatedly, thankfully always with five minutes to spare to watch the ships and take just a few more photos of the busy-ness that was all about.

Back behind the port is the old Speicherstadt area. The warehouses were built in the late 1800s to store goods from the free port.  It's a pretty quiet part of town now - there are a few apartment conversions in the pipeline and curious tourists walking through the old lanes, but mostly the old buildings have been left to themselves leaving you to imagine how the place must have looked 200 years ago when bargeships and men and pulleys and horses would have filled the place with the sounds that now echo from the modern-day port.
Speicherstadt, Hamburg



Waiting for the photographer gets tiring
This weekend we took another mini-break and hopped on the train and travelled up to Hamburg. We walked alot, ate yummy food and drank lots of schorle.  I took lots of photos while Matthias fell asleep on park benches. It was pretty much a perfect weekend.


Donna Hay Hot Cross Buns

True to my word, I went home last night and made my Hot Cross Buns. I ate one this morning for breakfast, slightly toasted under the grill with a generous layer of butter, and for a first attempt I think I did an okay job. This batch is probably still a little dense for my liking.  I have a feeling I used the wrong yeast - there are about a dozen different yeast products in Germany and I still haven't quite worked out what the difference is between them all. Next time I might use live yeast, which is really my favourite bread-levening product anyway. 

On Adele's suggestion I also added some salt to the dough and having not tasted the sans-salt version I'm declaring it a successful addition.  I think I might jiggle the spice quantities in the next batch too - this lot had a little too much all spice and not enough cinnamon, although I think that probably had more to do with the respective age of the spices sitting in my cupboard than the recipe. But all in all, a definite success! They'll be more of these made before I declare the Easter holidays over anyway.


Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha' penny, two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns!
One of the things that I love about Easter is Hot Cross Buns.  Germany has the best bread culture and last year I was sure that this would mean some fairly extraordinary Hot Cross Buns at easter time.  You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered that Hot Cross Buns are not part of the Easter tradition here. Of course it never dawned on me that I might be able to make my own. And then yesterday I read this post on making your own Hot Cross Buns over at Delly and Bells  blog. I'm a sucker for a Donna Hay recipe at the best of times and a quick overview of the ingredients had me thinking I could make them without even visiting the supermarket for supplies. I was all ready to go and already imagining the smell and taste of Hot Cross Buns straight from the oven when the whole plan came unstuck. No milk! No matter, things have just been delayed by a day. There will be milk this afternoon. - and hopefully some Hot Cross Buns too!
 Picture Credit: Donna Hay

Do you have any favourite traditions for this time of the year? I love hearing about what other people do to celebrate something that for me, is as much about celebrating the change in seasons and the cycle of life as anything else. In Austria it's all about eating Spring Lamb and something called "egg-knocking", a game where you knock two egg tips together until one egg breaks. The Easter Bonnet parade was always something that I looked forward to at school and when I visited Japan a few years ago the Cherry Blossom festival was just beginning and I was surprised to see how much of this festival carried many similar themes as Easter in Christian cultures.

What are you doing to celebrate this time of the year? Keeping it traditional, attending religious services, spending time with family or just relaxing at home?



The sun did come out and play this weekend! Warm enough to enjoy our first lunch out on the balcony and plenty more time to watch the neighbours carefully preparing their window boxes for the flowering season. I also indulged in my first ice-cream for the season (oh guilty pregnant pleasure!) followed by a walk through Alexanderplatz and Mitte to the Pergamon to see The Tell Halaf Adventure, a fairly incredible exhibition of Aramean sculptures. Most of the sculptures were destroyed in WWII bombings only to be meticulously pieced back together over the last 15 years by a team of archeologists who, by this stage, must all have PhDs in puzzle-wizzardry. 

Walking back home from the museum was really a pretty amazing sensory experience.  Not sure if it was my over-active fertility hormones but it felt like the whole city was alive with Spring-fever.  The air was thick with the smell of blossoms in full bloom, birds were happily chirping as the sun set and thousands of tulips were dancing on nature strips in the faint breeze.  Yep, I definitely think Spring is my favourite season!



These clouds have been hanging over Berlin for most of the week. Dark, menacing clouds that have occasionally opened up and released some fairly heavy rains.  Oh, I know Spring rain is good for the plants and quite possibly good for the soul as well, but when you have things to do and were so happy so finally be wearing cute ballet flats again, after months of boot wearing, it does put you a little out of sorts.  

To encourage the sun to come back again I've been playing around with a few photos I took over the weekend when the sun was out and everything felt very early-summer dreamy. The photo below reminds me a little of what you might see if you'd just opened your eyes after having a quick little cat-nap on your picnic rug. Everything is just a little bit blurry, the sun is warm and your not quite sure whether you should close your eyes again or keep reading your book.  

Wishing you all a lovely weekend which is hopefully full of sleepy picnic rugs and not too many clouds!
Dreamy Spring


On my way to work

We're in the midst of Blossom season here and it's making me so happy.  Not sure if there is anything more lovely than seeing flowers appearing on the trees after a long winter hiatus. I've been walking past my favourite "blossom spots" from last year, stalking the trees and quietly waiting for them to flower. I always used to say I was an Autumn person - I love 'swishing' through piles of leaves which have fallen - but now I'm not so sure. Perhaps I'm a Spring person after all.  What about you?


Seven things and Six Coasters

The lovely SJ from Cracks in the Pavement tagged me the other day with a list of 7 things. In a spot of lovely coincidence, when I got home from work I discovered a package from SJ in my mailbox ! It was almost as if the Postie knew I was going to be tagged by her in cyberspace!  Such a happy coincidence. Anyway, SJ's lovely little package was six very cool, handmade coasters. The backstory is that I had a bit of green-eyed envy when I spied the coasters that she made for herself using a Frankie tutorial back in January and in a spot of blogger-love she offered to make me some. They are perfect for our Berlin apartment and are now dotted around the place ready to protect wooden surfaces from hot mugs and wine glasses.  Even Matthias thinks they're "okay", which is high praise for someone who previously had an irrational hatred of anything coaster-like. Thank you so much SJ!

And now onto seven things about me:

My due date is 15th July 2011. Twenty-seven weeks and counting. I'm both extremely excited and a little bit scared that we are still a long way off being ready. Nursery? Pram? Peadiatrician? Citizenship?!? In some kind of illogical logic I've started knitting the Bean lots of little cardigans, hats and blankets. If nothing else, this baby will be kitted out in cute knits.

I have a love affair with maps. I will study a map for hours if given the chance.  Ironically I have the worst sense of direction, don't know my left from my right and probably won't be able to tell you where we are on the map. But I love studying them. Especially the old ones.

Currently I work as a Pharmacoepidemiologist. Try telling someone that at a dinner party -  even amongst a group of medical-researchy type people it's a little like saying your a Tax Accountant.

I collect old bananas in the freezer. Sometimes I delude myself into thinking that I'm going to make them into Banana Bread or Muffins but really I know that they'll get thrown out the next time I defrost the freezer.

I got my first grey-hair when I was 21. I have no idea how grey my hair is now but I guess it's pretty grey. My hairdresser (who I love) is refusing to dye my hair while I'm pregnant. In protest I'm not getting it cut either. This is back-firing badly as I've ended up with a grown out hairstyle and badly home-dyed hair. Incidentally the association between maternal hair-dye and childhood diseases is weak with only one study showing a small increased relative risk of chidlhood neuroblastoma in a subset of women who used hair-dye in the two months surrounding conception. This "evidence" is not sufficient for me and I think the results are more likely to have occurred by chance than anything else. (That bit about being a Pharmacoepidemiologist? Sometimes it comes in handy... one of my secret skills is the ability to read and interpret medical studies. Yippee!)

I'm a fantastic sleeper. Any time, any where, any place. I've fallen asleep standing up in a crowd and on several occasions mid-sentence. This skill isn't always desirable.

I've visited all the continents except Antarctica and South America.  I'm not so keen to go to Antarctica, but I'd love to pack up a suitcase and travel through South and Central America for six months.I have a feeling that my footloose and fancy-free travel time is almost up, but a girl can still dream.

And now, over to you, I tag these three lovely European ladies:

Li + Belle from Li + Belle
Siobhan from Hello, Flower!



A few more photos from my week away in the Austrian Alps.  On one of the days I managed to convince Matthias not to ski and he joined me and his mum on a walk through the high Alpine plaines.  This was my first time in the "proper" mountains (Australian high country not with-standing) and it was really incredibly beautiful.  I kept having those 'oh this is just like in the movies' moments.
early spring walk
An alm is apparently a small lake which provides water to cattle grazing on the high pasture during the summer. Too early for the cows, but we had a lovely walk listening to the birds busily preparing their spring nests and the water melting into rushing streams. At the end of the valley was this cute little Jausenstation serving small refreshments.  Jausenstations traditionally only serve cold meat and cheese, but this little one had homemade Tirol dumpling (Tirolerknoedel) and Sauerkraut - perfect, hearty alpine food to warm us up before the walk back to the Valley.


BYO Couch


I'm posting about my weekend at the wrong end of hte week, but it's taken me a little while to get back into the swing of things post-holidays.  Thursday already. Ooops, the week seems to have escaped me.

Mauerpark on the first 'hot' day of the year; twenty degrees and it seemed every man, dog, BBQ and couch (!) was out enjoying the sunshine. We wandered down to enjoy the Karaoke which has become a bit of a Berlin Sunday institution. A couple of years ago a man decided to set-up a small amplifier and a Karaoke kit and invite people to join him in singing a couple of well known tunes.  He came back every Sunday and slowly the handful for cuious onlookers became a couple of thousand.  People now arrive hours before the "official" start time just to reserve a spot. It functions like almost any other Karaoke I've been to with an official 'list' where people who want to sing write their name and their song of choice. If you're good enough the crowd will get behind you and sing along too. Somewhat surprisingly the police or city council or nay-sayers that usually get involved in things like this are yet to materialise and the whole thing functions happily without permits, tickets, licences or governmental control. It's things like this that really make me love this city of mine.

Four Seasons and a Belly

The last taste of winter
Valley Walk
Early Spring on the high plains
Summer in the Valley
Fire in the Sky
Evening Autumn light... and one pregnant Belly!
Just a little taste, more to come tomorrow.


Blog Break #3

"Autumn Picnic" by Andi Watkins 
Etsy Shop: AndiWatkins4Sale
"Wine Maker's Bicycle" by photoamato
Etsy Shop: Photoamato
 "A Picnic of Peaches" by ADK Mama
Etsy Shop: adkmama
This is what I'm looking forward to come July. Hot weather and a lovely big glass of red wine - something big and bold which lingers on the palate and smells like blueberries and chocolate. And if it takes my fancy, I might have a second glass just to make sure it's okay for everyone else to sample too.  I'm not greedy, I'm more than happy to share, but only after I've checked that the bottle isn't corked.  Perhaps we can pack a picnic or ride our bikes down to the park. We'll watch the sunset, eat roast beef sandwiches and generally have a grand old time.  Sounds like you kind of thing? I'll meet you there. My shout.