Friday 27 August 2010

A Bout Of Shopalitis

Two weeks ago, I "suffered" a severe bout of shopalitis.
Normally, I am hardly a shopaholic; sure, I love shopping for clothes and shoes, toileteries and other such things (who doesn't?), but often, it is enough for me to just look around and not actually buy anything.

During my holiday in England, I went into quite a number of clothes (and other) shops, some of which were VERY tempting (the one I instantly fell in love with was
this one in Leeds' beautiful Victoria Quarter), and yet I only bought a skirt and a top from Monsoon when we were already at Manchester Airport, waiting for our flight home.

What made me buy those things was a combination of boredom (what else do you do at an airport? You can't read forever, it being a bit impolite when in company anyway, nor can you sit in a café indefinitely, and while watching people certainly offers some entertainment, it has its limits) and the impression of a good bargain.

(Inside Victoria Quarter, Leeds.)

When I came back, I had a few days at home before setting off to another week away, this time for working at a fair. I enjoyed those few days and spent them with such pleasant activities as celebrating my mum's 66th birthday and... well, shopping.
On that day, I only went to town for a new ink cartridge for my printer and a new head for my electric toothbrush.
And look what I came back with!

Two dresses and two pairs of shoes... plus the cartridge and the toothbrush head.
It seemed a crime to pass those dresses - prices had been reduced only hours before I happened to stroll into the shop, and there was just the ONE in my size of each model. The shoes were from the cheapest shoe shop in town anyway and hardly mattered budget-wise - but I liked them, and couldn't decide between the two pairs, so I simply took both.
Slightly dizzy from this sudden burst of shopalitis, I carried my new acquisitions home.
My mum had bought me a coconut macaroon, and did I need that break!

Glad to tell you that I was back to normal after that, and have not bought anything but groceries and cat food since :-)

Sunday 15 August 2010

Summer's End

It makes me sad, but it can not be denied: summer is coming to a close, and autumn is just around the corner.

More often than not, we get many a sunny day in September, and even in October temperatures can still reach a pleasant high during the day, but the substantial part of summer - what seemed to be an endless row of hot days spent in bright sunshine out in the garden, on the fields or at the public swimming pool when I was a kid - is over.

As every year, my feelings are mixed; much as I love the colourful changes to the world around me and the richness of fruit and nuts that are part of the onset of the colder half of the year, I do miss the long evenings of light and the possibility to walk around with very little fabric on me without feeling cold.

My parents have been to their allotment today, and on their way home stopped at my place to bring me apples, tomatoes and brambles.

Half of the tomatoes I had for dinner, with fresh basil leaves from the potted basil on one of the window sills in my kitchen. The brambles will go on my muesli tomorrow morning for breakfast. The apples will keep a while, so for now, they sit in the fruit bowl on my kitchen table.

Yes, I like late summer and autumn.
Still, I don't want this summer to end just yet.
It's been really good.

Saturday 14 August 2010

About Spelling

I am picky at times, and can fastidiously be in clever-clogs-mode, as almost everyone who is in close personal contact with me - be it at work or at home - will readily testify.
One particular area where my rather unreasonable drive for perfection becomes truly annoying at times is spelling.

Spelling and grammar errors are so common I really should not bother with them at all, and I sometimes wish I wasn't so well trained in spotting them - no matter the language (as long as I know it, of course!).
For almost ten years, I worked at a publisher's. We edited and printed 60 weekly newspapers of small communities throughout South Germany, and my responsibility were the adverts.
Now, of course we had our own team of proof readers, but sometimes we were short staffed, and when that happened, I proof-read. Never the adverts that I had typeset myself - Proof Readers Golden Rule No. 1 says, Thou shalt not proof-read your own stuff. Someone else's eyes will usually spot the ortographical or grammatical error commited by the writer or typesetter who, more often than not, will fail to realize the error him- or herself.

Having said that, for my blog, I have to be my own proof-reader. And even though I always read my entries at least twice before clicking on "publish post", every now and then I re-read an older piece and still find the odd typo.
(So, please do point them out to me if you find them, ok?)

What prompted me into writing this is something I saw today when I was walking along one of the main shopping streets of my home town. Within a distance of only a few footsteps from each other, two errors caught my attention, both on handwritten blackboards on the pavement outside the shops.
One was at a telephone shop, and the notice on the board read

1 Vertrag -
3 Handy's

Now, if you do not speak German, you won't understand what's wrong here, but, in short, it should have been Handys, not Handy's, as the apostrophe is completely out of place here.

The other one was in front of a coffee bar, announcing

Coffee to go
1,50.- Euro

Nothing wrong there? Wrong. The .- is supposed to be a place holder for what comes behind the comma - in those cases where there is nothing behind the comma. If the price for that coffee had been 1,00 Euro, they could have written 1.- Euro. But digits behind the comma and the .- is simply wrong.
(I told you I am a fastidious and annoying nerd when it comes to such detail.)

To make up for my unnecessary rant, let me point you to the
blog of a friend of mine who writes in a most entertaining manner about the typical errors, false friends and minor and major mishaps that can (and do) happen in the world of writing and translating.

Friday 13 August 2010

In Strange Beds

Don't worry, I am not going to brag, Uncle-Oswald-style, about my numerous sexual exploits here, and me having slept in eight different beds during the past 12 days has no erotic implication at all - it is merely one aspect of the holiday that lays just behind me.

Maybe you have read what I wrote last, about
getting ready and therefore already know that my sister and I went to England for a holiday.

Our holiday served a dual purpose; just as much as I wanted to go back to England for a bit, where I feel very much at home (and not only in terms of language) and get away from work and the everyday routine this involves, I also wanted to see the people whose family I became part of when I married my second husband. As most of my readers will know, he died very suddenly last year, and I am glad to say that his friends and family in England have been just as supportive as everyone over here.

The relatives and friends all seemed to be genuinely pleased to see us, and we were truly made feeling welcome. Beforehand, when we were still planning our holiday, we had so many offers where to stay that we really had to plan carefully in order to fit everything into the less than two weeks that we had. Hospitality was so kindly extended to us from all sides, and so we worked out the following route:

Ripon was our first stop. There, we stayed for two nights at my mother-in-law's; I slept in this room on the settee, accompanied by one of Mary's black and white cats:

The area around Ripon and the small town itself have much to offer to the visitor, and we had another two days there, but moved to a B&B in order to give Mary and ourselves a bit more privacy. This was our room at the B&B, which is called
Box Tree Cottages:

We then went for a big contrast and took the bus to Leeds, a city of 750.000 inhabitants (as opposed to picturesque Ripon with maybe 17.000). There, we stayed at the
Cosmopolitan hotel in the room you can see below. It wasn't the best of stays - the room was surprisingly spacious, but the bathroom had not been cleaned proplery (we complained, and it was sorted out instantly) and the only window in our room was very tiny, leading into a kind of light shaft which incidentally also had the tubes of the kitchen's ventilation system ending there, so that we heard the noise of that all night (not me - I simply put my earplugs in. I never travel without them.).

Our next stop was Bolton upon Dearne, where a couple of friends had invited us to stay with them. There, we enjoyed the peace and quiet of a house looking onto fields; I did not take a picture of the two rooms we slept in, for various good reasons (just believe me).

After that, we were ready for a taste of city life again, and went to Sheffield, which I found to be a lot more beautiful than I had expected. Our
hotel there was a four star one, and this was our room:

For it being so comfortable, clean and stylish, we would have liked to extend our stay; alas we had the next episode already lined up and took the train to Thurnscoe, where my utterly lovely Auntie Ann was waiting for us. She gave us this room:

Two nights we stayed there, before travelling to the Peak District, where I'd never been before in my life. The scenery there is breathtakingly beautiful and so completely different from anything I know around here, and I really want to go back there and explore further where I could only scratch the surface this time. After a short hike, we arrived at our quarter for the night, a medieval barn that was practically rebuilt and furnished by the
Crookstone Adventure Trust.
It was the most basic of all our stays, practically the opposite to the hotel in Sheffield, but we enjoyed it very much. The barn looks like this:

Only too soon, our holiday was coming to an end. Because our flight back to Germany was in the morning, we decided to go to Manchester the day before and spend the night at Bewley's hotel next to the airport. It is nothing special, just your typical business travellers' place to stay, and nothing about our room was remarkable, except for the sheer size of the beds (quite welcome after where we'd been before, I must admit):

As I said, the holiday was great. We did lots of different things and met lots of lovely people, had many an excellent meals and saw some truly stunning sights.

Nonetheless, after all those strange beds, my own bed felt very welcoming, and so did having my own bathroom to myself again, and having full access to my complete wardrobe.

I love travelling, I really do.
But I also love coming home :-)