Tag Archives: Germany

Where do you draw your energy from – the Sea, Rivers, Lakes, Forest or some place else?

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Sometimes I get stuck in a rut only noticing what is not in line with my ideal, which for instance would include both lakes/sea AND plentiful trees. Last week I’ve been able to start enjoying more of something that is important to me: the Forest! To me it’s both cleansing and soothing and helps me re-energise. Just nearby to my home I’ve found many locations where I wanted to linger and identified places that would be perfect for ‘mindfulness moments’, reminding myself to take a blanket with me the next time I go ( & maybe even a little picnic).

 

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I sensed something within me awakening – I felt something like a sensation of déjà vu, it felt comforting and familiar yet awe inspiring! The majestic, towering trees and the beauty of nature help put things into perspective. It’s comforting to rediscover the familiar peace I was often able to regain during moments of teenage angst on walks in the forests of my youth in Finland, but now instead locally in nearby German forests. This is something I couldn’t do easily in Cornwall, as the woods there are quite rare and small!

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Although not quite the sea, but rivers like the Rhine are actually huge; It is the second longest river in Central and Western Europe!

My old home in the south-west of England may have had the sea which I dearly love, but Germany has an abundance of lush forests with trickling streams and flowing rivers. Now that I feel like I’m moving towards a better work – life balance, I seem to have more ‘head-space’ to notice more of the lovely things my new home in Germany has to offer. I know that spending more time in nature is good for our well-being, so making time for this is crucial for me personally and due to too many demands on my time over the past few years I’ve neglected this. After all,  there is much research supporting the importance of spending time outside being crucial for all of us. In fact, Mind (a UK based mental health charity) state that ‘Ecotherapy should be recognised as a clinically valid treatment for mental distress’.

Hello Spring!!

Magnolia blossoms on a tree across the road

Magnolia blossoms on a tree across the road

It’s been very quiet on my blog for too long now… There are good reasons for that though, as I just became too overwhelmed by demands on my time. When a person feels stretched by responsibilities and stress levels elevate, it’s too easy to filter the world through a negative perspective (what’s the opposite of rose-tinted spectacles?). So not only did I lack time for blogging, I didn’t want to moan, as wallowing doesn’t help me, nor anyone who happens to read my blog! My aim is to start updating my blog regularly again, as I have a plan in place which will hopefully ease my schedule a bit 🙂 Afterall, I try to help patients achieve a healthy work/life balance, so I should do this for myself as well!

The woodland walk just 5 minutes from our flat!

The woodland walk just 5 minutes from our flat!

After feeling quite disappointed with several aspects of my life in Germany, I decided that although some things I cannot change (i.e. a couple of very hostile neighbors), I can however try to immerse myself more into the local culture and also start doing more things I enjoy. I decided to sign up for German classes!! This sounds simple enough but unfortunately it wasn’t, as I needed to start at ABSOLUTE beginners level because I haven’t learnt any German at school. English & Swedish are compulsory subjects in Finnish schools, but German isn’t; right now I’m kind of wishing it had been 😉 Unfortunately, there was a 3 month delay in starting the actual lessons as there weren’t enough people with no previous German knowledge to achieve the minimum group size!

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One great aspect about having lessons in a small group is the moral support, from just simply relating to each others struggles in learning the language as adults. German is not easy – I wish I still had the Neuroplasticity of a child!! Luckily, the group is small enough for each of us to get adequate individual instruction from the teacher. At this stage I personally would not want to have lessons in a larger group or completely alone.

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Enjoying the sun with family on a sunny spring day near Wiesbaden’s beautiful Marktkirche!

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In the park

I’m now looking at life here in Germany with cautious optimism, which wavers at times, but the stretches of feeling more content are a bit more frequent. Spring is also well under way in Wiesbaden, which I think is my favourite season here! It’s difficult not to feel more positive when surrounded by all the fresh green leaves in the abundant trees and beautiful blossoms everywhere!! Also, with the translation help of an expat friend, who speaks fantastic German, I’ve been able to start taking life-drawing lessons. This is a nice counterbalance to all the intellectual processing I do with work and now with German lessons as well. In fact I end my week with Friday art lessons usually followed by a glass of wine and nice meal in one of the many lovely restaurant we have here in Wiesbaden. So really, in the grand scheme of things, I can’t complain too much!

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Frankfurter Grüne Soße is in season again – I’m told it’s made with 7 fresh spring herbs. I love having this at the traditional German Restaurant Uhrturm. So delicious with tender braised beef and roast potatoes!

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Hope you have a Happy May Day or ‘Hauskaa Vappua’ as they say in Finland!!

Ps. I’ve neglected to mention the “Liebster Award” award nomination I’ve received from Gill from 
http://coteetcampagne.wordpress.com; I will come back to that soon ☺ Thank you kindly Gill – I’ve enjoyed your blog too!

Balcony ‘garden’!

My small selection of flowers, veggies and herbs are doing quite nicely despite the heat wave we had… In any case I think they enjoyed the soaring temperature more than I did 🙂 I’m very much a novice at growing in pots and on the balcony, as I’ve always owned a garden. However, living in a city now has persuaded me to try my best on the two balconies we have!

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Every morning I’m joined by many buzzing bees while I have my morning tea and yoghurt 🙂

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These chilies seemed to appear in just one very hot day, during which I was concerned that my plants would parish from the heat as there is no shade on the south facing balcony. We are planning on installing an awning at some point, as right now when the sun is at its hottest no-one wants to sit out there!

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The Hungarian peppers made a similar sudden appearance over night – I swear!

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The cat was enjoying a moment of cool temperatures on the east balcony during the early morning before this too over-heated. The oregano, basil and mint planted on the little east balcony have flourished as well. I’ve admittedly been more diligent than usual with my watering schedule during the heat wave.

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This is the first time I’ve grown tomatoes in a pot; I think they are also coming along splendidly.

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The rocket is also flourishing!

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Plum tomatoes are coming along nicely too. Here they are called eier tomate which translates to egg tomatoes 🙂

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Even the small potted gooseberry bush has produced a couple of berries!!

Longing for lakes or the sea…

My yearning for water has intensified with the recent stifling heat we’ve been experiencing!! As I’ve almost always lived near the sea or at least a very large lake, I feel I need to start researching swimming options nearby. There is nothing better than plunging yourself into cool refreshing water to make scorching weather more tolerable 🙂 I know there are plenty of swimming pools and spas here locally, but the thought of them probably becoming over-crowded the minute it’s very warm just isn’t that appealing to me. At least it’s very lush and green in the Wiesbaden area and walking in the woods does cool you down a bit!!

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The only lake I’ve been to so far whilst living in Germany is Lake Constance, which is the country’s largest lake. It was very beautiful, but as we spent Christmas there it was the wrong time of year for swimming!! At the time, however, I thought it would be lovely to visit again in the summer. Below you can see some pics I snapped when it was chilly, now I think it just looks refreshing!!! I can imagine how gorgeous this area is in the summer 🙂

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I’ve also heard that Lake Alpsee by Neuschwanstein castle is very scenic! I wonder if it might be good for swimming as well… If anyone out there has been, I’d love to hear of your experience. I’ve also seen pictures and heard good things about Lake Müritz, Königssee & Titesee. The closest lake I know of, Mummelsee, is still quite a long 2 1/2 hour drive from Wiesbaden and I believe it is rather small, so I suspect it gets packed on balmy weather 😦 Would love to hear of pretty and peaceful lakes that are a shorter drive to Wiesbaden (near Frankfurt)!!!

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konigsee4 The above photos of Königssee are from the website: http://www.bayern.by/koenigssee

For now I’m trying to cool down with fans, ice water, cool showers and by closing all the shutters on the windows to block out the intense sun. To think I initially hated the look of window shutters here in Germany, which are usually not like the pretty wooden shutters on French houses ; they are actually very functional and do serve their purpose. Now I’m so grateful I didn’t have them removed, as our builder talked us out of it!!!!

The range cooker has finally arrived and more on my kitchen inspiration (or perhaps I should say indecisiveness)!

My lovely white enamelled Lacanche with brass trims has finally arrived a couple of days ago!! Sadly it’s not yet connected to our mains gas, as the guy we have been recommended for installation cannot come by until Friday. So more pics to follow later…

However, I am quite disappointed with myself for not yet placing my tile order, as I have been struggling with deciding whether to go for the neutral grey-white themed kitchen I had been planning originally, or something more colourful… Below I’ve posted some images I have been collecting on pinterest for inspiration! The first photo below features a white Lacanche oven installed in someone else’s lovely kitchen. My kitchen isn’t huge as it’s in an old flat, where traditionally kitchens were of a modest size, but I hope it will soon be a tranquil and inspiring setting for cooking and baking 🙂

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The above kitchen can be found on http://shannonbowersdesigns.com

white kitchen, light grey and subway tiles

Picture found on www.style-files.com – Kitchen inspirations

grey cubs and white sub walls

This image was found on http://www.adultrunaway.tumblr.com – a break from the day

grey walls marble and white cabs

Above picture from www.curbly.com The Curbly House: Our kitchen revealed!

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This pretty kitchen was in the Guardian’s ‘Kitchen design ideas – in pictures’ article www.theguardian.com

Or perhaps I should go for some french inspired tiles, which wouldn’t be in line with my usual safe scandinavian palette of muted colours!! Having said that, I’m only considering blue and white patterns, not contrasting stronger coloured tiles that I often like in other people’s kitchens, but fear my eyes might become weary of them over time in my own home.

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The above blue and white kitchen can be found on http://www.myparadissi.com

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Below are a few example of the tiles I’m considering from – http://www.winchestertiles.com

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I’ve given myself until Friday as my deadline for placing the tile order, as it will take 2 weeks to deliver.  I really want to have my kitchen walls protected when I start cooking more now that I have my range 🙂

Would be interesting to hear/see what kitchen design schemes you have gone for??Also, I wonder if anyone out there knows where to buy traditional cupboard handles/knobs here in Germany? I’ve only found one place where they were selling un-lacquered little brass knobs for about €30 a piece!! Not an option as I need over 25 😦

Historical photo of our building exterior!!

I just thought I’d pop by on this sunny day to quickly post a picture I recently received from one of our neighbours. Below you can see a photo of our Art Nouveau house from back in 1912 (complete with traditionally attired little boys from the era)!! I think it’s charming, but sadly the house facade has not been maintained as regularly as it should have been. This building was owned completely by someone who currently occupies just one flat. He used to rent out all of the apartments in this building, now he only has a couple of smaller flats that he rents out. Before we moved in the people who owned our apartment were unfortunately not interested in renovating the facade of the building (or perhaps could not afford it). Now that we have moved into the building and being fanatic period property lovers, it appears that the majority of the owners in this building are keen to see sympathetic repairs carried out. We are slowly getting building companies to come in to give quotes, so we can hopefully make some progress on this front very soon 🙂

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Kitchen tile decisions and Finnish traditional food…

The past few weeks I’ve been desperately trying to hunt for the style of traditional wall tiles I’m after in the local shops to no avail. Until I finally stumbled across a little place in Bad Homburg that imports the type I’m after. I have been very surprised not to find something more classical that is made in Germany apart from Via Platten, which is a factory producing beautifully made traditional art nouveau style tiles, but only for floors!! Whilst they’re beautiful, they are just too thick for walls and the designs are also more suitable for a large surface rather than narrower splash backs. (I’m keeping them in mind for an eventual bathroom renovation though!)

The classical and timeless tiles that I like always seem to be from France, UK, or Italy. The two most likely candidates are slightly off-white weathered looking and crackled Italian subway tiles and a series of UK produced but French influenced blue and white tiles. Image

Here’s the simple and classically elegant subway tile.

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and here are the French style tiles, which would definitely be more of a statement (and are much more expensive!), but could be interesting in an all white painted wooden kitchen, which will soon be joined by a white enamelled French range cooker!!

Here are two pictures of one side of my still unfinished kitchen missing all pelmets, cornices and handles, but I finally have a functioning sink, tap and dish-washer – progress, albeit slow!!!

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Not sure which tiles to go for yet, as I usually play it safe with whites and creams, as I can always add colour with kitchen accessories and textiles. Some how though the blue and white eclectic mix is appealing to me and they are traditional/classic in a different way!

Luckily, regardless of my frustrations with the slow progress of our renovations and a couple of cultural clashes that I have been struggling with, we’ve had lovely balmy weather. Today it was 26 in the shade and the breeze was fragrant with flowers!! I’ve also made an effort to cook some of my favourite foods this week, as that always lifts my spirits  🙂 Image

Evening sunshine from my study window sill today looking out onto the balcony – still very warm 🙂

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Traditional Finnish style early summer lunch of pickled herring, gravad lax, and new potatoes with a typical light créme fraiche, egg and fresh herb dressing!

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Another comforting home cooked meal of Finnish meatballs with gravy and lingon berry sauce from a couple of days ago! Home-made meatballs are SOOooo much better (and healthier) than the rubbery bouncy balls you get from Ikea 😉