Monthly Archives: July 2014

Ice Cream & Construction

I only just got back from a strenuous girlie shopping expedition with my friend Martina. After trying on countless garments, we rewarded ourselves with this:

Blueberry ice cream

On the way to the car park, we passed by this construction site:

Looks like thirsty work up there...

Looks like thirsty work up there…

A Marvellous Medieval Bash

On Friday, the vagaries of the Bavarian weather dealt me a lucky hand. My friend Martina called me in the morning, asking if I fancied going to the Kaltenberg Knights’ Tournament that evening.  She had two tickets, but her husband couldn’t go. He had to do the threshing before the rain showers, predicted for early next day, would turn the fields too soggy for fieldwork.

I said yes, of course 🙂

Kaltenberg is a small village not far from mine, with a magnificent castle dating from 1292, owned by the last Bavarian King’s great-grandson. Once a year, the grounds are home to a fantastic spectacle: The Knights’ Tournament, surrounded by a medieval market, workshops, food and, of course, tons of people in costume.

I think took hundreds of photos… and I don’t usually post that many in one go, but I do hope you enjoy the colourful splendidness of it all 🙂

Let’s start with some food:

A little snack we had... note the beer jug with the tournament's emblem

A little snack we had… note the beer jug with the tournament’s emblem

A bunch of knights in shining armour

A bunch of knights in shining armour

A Lanky King and his footman

A Lanky King and his footman

Better not snap that one from the front! (See my scaredy shadow on the floor...?)

Better not snap that one from the front! (See my scaredy shadow on the ground…?)

A Fair Maiden with her sword

A Fair Maiden with her sword

And men with their lances

And men with their lances

Axing that clown...?

Axing that clown…?

Here come the witches!

Here come the witches!

WitchTarred and featheredMedieval Children

Sometimes out-of-focus shots are a good thing...

Sometimes out-of-focus shots are a good thing…

And we're back to food...

And we’re back to food…

Pig headsPork RoastFlagMagicians

Punters enjoying medieval board games

Punters enjoying medieval board games

EatingFire roastingDragonBeer Barrel


The arena – site of the actual tournament


"La Ola"

“La Ola”

Blur of colourWoman taking pics


Eating Bavaria: Might As Well Start With Cake!

Yesterday, I relocated from parched 40ºC Central Spain to my summer residence in lush green Bavaria. I’ll be here for a month, and my mission is simple: Eat. As much as possible. Of everything.

And so it begins.

My mum just came back from the bakery with this:

Poppy seed cake

A delectable, moist poppy seed cake with crumbly bits on top!!!

I love, love, love poppy seeds. In cake, in strudel, in danishes… JUST GIVE THEM TO ME! Sadly, this sumptuous bakery genre is virtually unknown outside of Central(-ish) Europe. I’ve no idea why.


An Afternoon Of Pop Art And Vietnamese Nosh

Q: What do two freelancers do on a Tuesday afternoon? A: What they bloody well like!

So, off to Madrid we went, Maria and I, to peruse  the Mitos Del Pop exhibition laid on by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. (Whoever decided on this tongue twister of a name???)

Madrid Metro - Puerta Del Sol

Madrid Metro – Puerta Del Sol. A bit ‘Pop Art’, don’t you reckon?!

Entrance to the exhibition, with Maria at the end

Entrance to the exhibition, with Maria waiting for me to get a move on.

Soup cans. Photo taken in the Museum shop, not the exhibition itself. I was told off :(

There can be no Pop Art without Soup cans! Photo taken in the Museum shop, not the exhibition itself. And the staff told me off 😦

Let’s move onto the food. We opted for Vietnamese 🙂

Spring rolls, the non-fried version

Spring rolls, the non-fried version. Fresh, crunchy, chewy and delicious.

Stir fry with peanut sauce

Stir fried pork with peanut sauce

Bloghopping Mad!

It’s a fine sunny Monday here in Toledo – ideal for a spot of bloghopping. And this is not just any old bloghop, oh no, but one that’s meant to be all about the “writing process”.

I did not, you understand, come up with such a lofty concept. I’m merely attempting to catch the bouquet tossed high up into the air by Linda of expateyeonlatvia, who summarised her writing process to me once as “I pour myself a glass of red and start ranting”. I sure wish my rants were half as hilarious as hers *wistful sigh*.

Let’s get to the questions:

What am I working on?
Hmmm… I guess…. life…and my(exasperating)self. I’m a lazy ol’ sod and inclined to let things slide. At every opportunity. I procrastinate, the discomfort grows, until panic sets in, and only then do I spring into action. A couple of days ago, I came across Stephen Covey quote: “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important”. That just about sums it up for me.

It’s a constant tussle between the daily grind, and maintaining the trajectory that propels me towards the things I actually want to do, and these things tend to require quite a bit of tedious planning.

This also applies to writing – the most satisfying posts tend to the the ones I’ve been brooding over for a while.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I don’t think my blog fits into one particular genre. Is it an expat blog? A food blog? A language blog? A travel blog? A humour blog? Well, it’s a mixture of all of these, more of a shaggy mongrel than a streamlined thoroughbred.

I’m not actively trying to set myself apart. I’m not selling a “product”. I just want to express myself, share my experiences and link up with people of similar interests. I like discussion, puerile puns and silly banter. I get things wrong sometimes, and I don’t mind people picking me up on it – that’s what the comment box is for.

I’ve come across blogs that didn’t have a comment section. Or bloggers who just don’t respond to comments. What’s that all about?!

Why do I write what I do?
I write every day because that’s how I earn a living. Of course, my work writing caters to my clients’ needs, and even though they give me a lot of freedom, it doesn’t entirely satisfy me on a creative level.

The blog provides a counterbalance, it’s an outlet for my thoughts and observations that have no place in my work writing. In the Food Follies and Global Consumerism sections you will find those posts that are closest to my professional writing, although the language will be more informal and I’ve tackled issues from all sorts of precarious angles, which would be wholly unacceptable to my business clients.

I set up the blog for three reasons: To help me develop my writing in other directions (particularly in the language and humour realms), to bore the pants off my friends and family with what I’m up to (“look, she’s scoffing yet another cake!”), and to connect with like-minded bloggers all over the world.

How does my writing process work?
That depends. Since I started blogging, I don’t go anywhere without my camera. Some people go into anaphylactic shock when they discover they’ve left their phone at home. For me, it’s a missing camera that gets my knickers in a twist. If I see something that’s pretty, delicious or just plain ridiculous, I snap it, wedge it between a few lines of text, and up on the blog it goes.

The process for the non-photo-centred posts is really quite different. Some of these will have been festering in my brain for aeons, until they suddenly reach critical mass. This tends to happen at the most inconvenient of times, i.e. when I really should be doing something else, like my PAID work. By now, I’ve accepted that I have about as much control over the expulsion process as a pregnant woman in labour. It just has to come out, whether I like it or not.

I must add, though, that my (non-photo) posts are never written and published within the same day. I usually take ta least three days, sometimes longer, to get from the first few rickety draft paras to the final version. There can be as many as 30 revisions. When I reach the point where I can’t tell anymore whether I’m making a piece better or worse, I know it’s time to stop fiddling.

Californian writer Annie Lamott wrote once that one of her greatest fears was being run over by a bus outside her house right after having churned out a first draft of a restaurant review or whatever. People would find the document on her computer, stare open-mouthed at what are clearly the incoherent ramblings of a maniac, and be convinced that she had, in fact, killed herself. I can relate to that. It’s an involved process, almost equally as exhausting as it is gratifying. For that reason, I could never conceive of writing a novel, and I have boundless admiration for people who manage to accomplish such a feat.

A gratuitous flower pic. Because Linda loves them :)

A gratuitous flower pic. Because Linda loves them 🙂

OK, time to pass the buck. And it goes to the amazing Anna from gohomeandaway. Incidentally, it was expateyeonlatvia’s raucous comment section which brought us together. Anna, a native Muscovite who blogs from the great Russian capital, spent a large part of her formative years and early adulthood in the US.

Anna loves both cultures as much as she finds herself torn between them, which makes it a very compelling blog for all of us who have spent a substantial stretch of our lives outside of our birth/passport countries. I think that this post, which is about the intrinsic sexism that still prevails in Russian society today, illustrates her struggles rather poignantly.

Torture and Oral Sex On Toledo’s Terraces

Toledo has an extensive collection of torture instruments (just try googling “Toledo Spanish Inquisition”).  I’d admired them before, in a local museum, but now they’ve been given a public airing, presumably to scare the tourists. I took a couple of shots this morning on my way back from the opticians.

Torture instruments

Pull up a chair!

Pull up a chair!

Or would you rather have a little lie down...?

Or would you rather have a little lie down…? The headrest may be a bit on the prickly side.

You'd rather stand? Fine. Suit yourself.

You’d rather stand? Fine. Suit yourself.

Now that we’re in the right position, let’s get down to the sex part. So, the bar on the square outside my house is seriously trying to spice up its menu – see green flyer. You’ll have to squint a bit, but just in case you still can’t see it, it says “On our terrace: Oral Sex”.

Darn, it was yesterday! Tonight's titillation is boring old live music :(

Darn, it was yesterday! Tonight’s titillation is boring old live music 😦

Oral Sex Big