Saturday, March 31, 2007

General Update

Sorry I haven't been updating that much recently. The cold we caught in Munich really hung around for a long time. G's mom (he says I should write "mum", but this is my blog, so I will use my terminology, thank you very much) is away right now, visiting Wales and Ireland, so fortunately she's avoided us and our illness for the most part.

Lena had her second set of shots this past Thursday. They affected her more this time than the first. She was pretty grouchy all of Thursday and Friday but seemed better today. I showed the nurse the information I found about the Meningitis vaccine and Pneumococcal vaccine not to be given at the same time. She read it and just said that she hadn't experienced anyone having problems getting both at the same time. Good to know that in her vast clinical research, it's okay. I'm still not going to get them at the same time and will bring Lena to get the Pneumococcal in 2 weeks, so they won't be given at the same time.

In other news, we are house-hunting. We've decided we're going to try and buy something rather than rent. If housing prices continue to rise at their current rate; after 2 years we'll be better off owning rather than having rented that entire time. Of course, there's no guarantees that prices will go up, but as the Germans say, "No risk, no fun". Not that losing a big chunk of money on declining house prices would be fun, hahaha, no. We're looking mainly in Maidenhead, because as much as we like Cookham, it's too expensive for what we want. On average, for a 3 bedroom place, it's about 50 000 to 100 000 pounds more than buying in Maidenhead. That's a big lot of money for the luxury of village life. Heck, for that kind of money, we can get a taxi to take us down to Cookham and back every time we want to visit. And we could drink very expensive cognac on each trip too. So it's likely Maidenhead for us, unless someone out there really wants us to stay in Cookham and makes us an offer we can't refuse. (no horse heads in beds, please)

We've looked at around 10 places so far. We looked at this amount so that we had a base to know what the standards are. Being new to the country, nevermind the area, we needed to get that base so we would know when there was something good at a good price. Now that we have that base, we can now start to be a bit discerning and actually start choosing. Stay tuned for more on the topic in the future.

Finally, does anyone know where I can buy plain vinegar in England? Not malt vinegar, not pickling vinegar, not white wine vinegar, not red wine vinegar, not cider vinegar, not balsamic vinegar. Just plain vinegar. I want it for cleaning around the house and helping with the laundry and for the life of me, I haven't found it in any shop. My kingdom for some vinegar!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Silly little camera

I bought a little video camera to take videos of Lena. A couple you have seen, as I put them up on the web. Unfortunately you won't see any more for a while, as it seems the cheap little video cam really was cheap and crap. Vivitar is the manufacturer, and it's a Vivitar DVR-510. Basically, it won't turn on. Even with fresh batteries. What a piece of junk! Now if I was back in Germany, I would just send it back to the guy who sold it to me and demand my money back. Because in Germany, all goods sold automatically are guaranteed for 2 years. What was this, 2 months maybe? Now, if it turns out that it's simply the brand-new Duracell Plus batteries that I bought which are at fault, I'll take it all back.

Hmm, upon fiddling a bit with it here beside me, it seems that it might not be totally broken after all. It seems it turns on about 20 seconds after pressing the button. And about another 15 seconds after that, the screen lights up to enable you to actually do something. Well, that makes me happier than I was 10 minutes ago, but it's still going to be annoying if it takes half a minute to get the thing to working level. Okay Vivitar, I won't plot to destroy you and your factory just yet, but you had best start making slightly higher quality goods...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Things Missed

We had a great little trip to Munich. Lena was a trooper, not making much of a fuss no matter what situation we put her in. Whether it was being mauled/hugged/kissed by two older pre-school boys, staying up waaaaay past her bedtime or getting her to sit through an entire concert of music, she hardly cried at all. I will post some pictures and a longer post once I shake the cold I took back as a souvenir.

Being back made me realise there are a few things that I do really miss about Munich/Germany.
  • I mentioned this a bit before. Saying hello, aka "Grüß Gott" when I walk into a shop. And also having the shopkeeper or cashier wish me a nice weekend as I walk out of the shop. It's just the same as the "Have a nice day" that some people find superficial, but hey, it's still better than being wished a car accident to befall you.
  • I miss having a bakery on every other corner with lovely little pastries to buy.
  • I miss really good public transport. We haven't had the need for it so much here, since we don't know so many people. But in Munich we travelled a lot with trains and trams and buses and it was easy, even with the stroller.

I miss all these things, but I still don't think it was as tough a move as it might have been. I think I was right when I talked about it before, that because both the move and the baby came more or less at the same time, it wasn't as difficult a change as if only one had come along at a time. For example, if we didn't have a baby and moved here, we would often be at a loss of what to do on weekend nights. That's far less an issue with a baby. If we had had Lena in Munich, most of our friends, who are for the most part single or at least childless, would still be doing their thing like watching the rugby six nations in a smoky busy pub. And we couldn't take part in that either. So in a way, doing both at once is easier. The people we are meeting now tend to be in the same life situation as us, new parents, and so are in the position to do the same things as us too. Going over to someone's house for dinner is pretty exciting, as compared to how going to a restaurant or a club used to be the thing of excitement.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


We are gambling on Lena's passport arriving tomorrow. If it does, we are off to Munich on Friday for a few days to visit all our friends there and of course show off our lovely daughter. Keep your fingers crossed for us that the passport arrives!!

EDIT: Less than an hour after posting this, the passport arrived. Thanks for all your finger crossing, and if you are in Munich, hopefully see you this weekend.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hanging Out

My mother-in-law is here for the next little while, so my posting might be erratic for a week or two. Or I might find I have more time than I thought and be able to post lots. Either way, here's a little video of Lena and I hanging out together on the bed. All my videos are a bit dark because the video camera doesn't do well in anything but the brightest light, my apologies. The volume is okay at least, you can hear Lena talking with me.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Long Walk

On Thursday I met up with some of the women with from our NCT class to go for a walk. We met right next to Windsor Castle and walked The Long Walk, a path in Windsor Great Park. It was an absolutely great day, very sunny but not too hot with a slight breeze. Two weeks earlier we were going to do the walk but the weather wasn't so good. They had hummed and hawed about going, but decided not to; I didn't even go to Windsor because I thought it might not happen. So for this time, we decided we would go walking, no matter the conditions. Because it was so nice this first time, I think it was encouraging for us to do it again. The Long Walk was created/built way back in 1680, so we are unlikely to be the first new mothers to have walked it, but we were pretty proud of ourselves for having done it. It's around 5 miles long round-trip, although a lot of information I read about it says it's 6 miles long. I measured it using this handy little tool and it was 5 miles, or just over 8 kilometers. It's absolutely dead straight and the path is in good condition, so it's ideal for strollers. Here's a little picture of us at the turn-around point, which is at the top of a hill. If you squint, you can see Windsor Castle behind us.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Name that Tune

Today I took Lena to a Bookstart meeting at the local library. Bookstart is a program in England to promote a love of reading from a young age. They have a little pack of baby books they give you and an application form for the library too. The books are free, so if nothing else, I think it's nice to get a couple of age-appropriate books for your child to read with them.

The kids ranged in age from about 2 to 6 months, so Lena was the youngest. It was nice to see a different mix of ages though, to get a feeling of what the little ones can do at different ages. Of course, two minutes before we arrived, Lena fell asleep. So I was left on my own with the other parents and children to sing along.

I knew most of the songs, but what was interesting was that the tune was different for a few songs. Head & Shoulders, Knees and Toes had a totally different tune, Baa Baa Black Sheep was slightly different at points too. Also, there were small differences in the words, which threw me off as well. Funny to think that such easy children's songs, that are made easy to sing and remember, could still vary as much as they do.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

There's a total eclipse of the moon happening tonight and we are lucky enough to have clear skies for it. Here are some pictures; I'll be updating it as it happens.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Another House Construction rant

I talked before about how I couldn't understand why English houses are built so flush to the ground. Well, I have another construction "feature" to complain about. Why can't they build awnings on the houses? Whenever there's the slightest bit of wind, the windows are totally covered in rain. The doors, never mind the windows, have water spots on it. We have to be careful not to leave any of the windows open when it's raining, otherwise it can get inside very easily. There's a very small alcove in front of the front door, but it doesn't stop the rain and certainly offers no cover when trying to unlock the door. It's like it's there just to remind you that there are no awnings and to tease you about the fact.