We had a baby! Most people will call him Mateo. When pushed, they can include his middle name Arthur. We are so happy to have the little guy in the world, he brings us much joy and trades that for sleep (I’m not sure that the exchange rate is quite fair, but it is what it is).
Today we had to visit the hospital, of course that means it had to snow. No way out of it, had to hit the roads. It’s not normally a problem, drive a sensible speed, don’t accelerate rapidly, don’t hit the brakes too hard and even if there’s fresh powdered snow on the road, your car will get you there. What you cannot properly account for is the idiots in a hurry who still cling to their speed while the car is sliding out of control. I’m impressed, as always, that there aren’t as many deaths on the road in Germany as there rightly should be. It’s not because of the driver’s skill, they have none, it has to be the reasoning behind “German engineering” – it has to be superior, to level the playing field with the lack of driver ability.
Hopefully it’ll snow fresh for Christmas… a White Christmas would be perfect!
We’re planning on visiting some Christmas Markets while Carlos, Ingrid’s brother, is visiting friends. It means we can all fit in the car, but while he’s here, unfortunately, at least one of us has to stay behind, always. With the weather the way it is, that will make things hard/interesting. We don’t want to risk the health of our new born, of course, so is it really worth it? How will this riddle be solved? Stay tuned for our answers, when I get around to writing what we did.
Tonight we’re going out for dinner to celebrate Ingrid’s parents meeting 39 years ago. They’ve been married 35 years. It’s very sweet. On the way to the restaurant, there’s a house that take Christmas lights very seriously. We’ll see how they react to it when they see it for the first time on the way.
In other, not so interesting news, I learned that Ingrid’s mother writes her name with either a Y or an I at the beginning, depending on what she is writing it for.
I originally had plans to pack up the apartment and get our stuff into a van to move to greener pastures. Everybody else must have had the same thought, all the vans were booked out. I had to cancel my moving personnel, except, then I thought, maybe I could get things ready to dump into a van, when it is available. So I organised to have Khaled over to dismantle some things and also organised that we’d meet with Haitham for dinner.
Things ran late, I was starving, nothing was dismantled, Khaled arrived and we ditched work for the chance to eat.
I don’t know why but Haitham was the king of the day and it was his choice as to where we’d eat. He chose what I consider to be one of the least exciting places in Wilhelmshaven. It’s not that the place is bad, the food is pretty good actually, it’s just that everyone seems to choose here or the American joint.
The guys ordered burgers… another not so inspiring choice. I decided to make fun of them and partly because of eating a burger recently with Ingrid, I ordered a schnitzel.
We talked crap for 3 hours with topics such as: your glass is dirty or has detergent in it and that’s why the head of the beer dissipates quickly, getting Khaled a girl, babies, moving houses and languages.
After paying, we dropped off Haitham at a Nepalese Night his wife helped organise.
Ingrid’s brother has graduated his Masters degree in Aberdeen, Scotland. Her/his parents, naturally, wanted to be there for the ceremony. We booked them some cheap tickets so that they could spend 5 days in the -2 to 4 degree warmth.
The morning was a bit stressful, in part, because of a miscommunication that lead me to believe they were completely late and were going to miss their flight. Luckily it was only a miscommunication, they were delivered to the airport, safely and with more than enough time to catch their flight, have a coffee and relax. I didn’t know that until afterwards.
The highlight of their trip, other than seeing their son graduate, was a tour of a whisky distillery. They also have around 4000 different whiskies, including an affordable £5000 bottle.
Picking them up involved extra luggage. Ingrid’s brother, Carlos, accompanied them back and will be staying with us until mid-January.
No whisky was brought back…
The not so little baby is due, our next date night will be as a family!
Ingrid’s parents wanted to stay home and we wanted to go out, so we did. In the last week we received a catalogue for a new Kebab Restaurant in Wilhelmshaven. I know… it’s Kebab… For some reason that’s what we both wanted in the last week. Could be the dance with death health risk that appealed so much, no idea. Anywho… We did a drive-by passed the place. It looked to be not so much an eat in place as an order and run for your life kind of restaurant. We decided not to order and ran.
Conveniently there’s another restaurant nearby. It’s not kebabs, it was hamburgers. The place is called BurgerStop and we highly enjoyed it. The staff were very friendly, asking about the baby and things like. Unfortunately they didn’t have the drinks we wanted, but we got something that we enjoyed.
Ingrid ordered the Italia burger, it had mozzarella, ruccola and a pesto sauce. I ordered the Miri burger, it was the impressive one having roasted onion, a full salad, special sauce and cheddar cheese. Nailed it.
We then went to Miss Peppers to have milkshakes, because what’s a date without a milkshake?
It’s not the oldest Markt, it’s not the best Markt, but it is a cool milestone. I can remember 333 years ago, the television wasn’t a thing yet, nor were cars, in fact retirement wasn’t really a thing either… the average life expectancy in Sweden was about 32-36, depending on your gender. This markt was operating. I’m missing an ‘e’ you say? I’m not, it’s what the thing is called here in Germany.
I think I’ve mentioned it in previous posts… these markts were basically an event for farmers and business people to trade livestock, crafts, food, labour and drink a lot. These days there’s sometimes still the selling of livestock, there’s always some people some junk as craft, there’s lots of fried stuff as food, that means the drinking is still very traditional. The kids get to go on rides and things like that.
We took Ingrid’s parents along. They are still not used to the idea of ‘cold’ here. Ingrid’s mum paid the price of not bringing enough clothing and we were huddled into a café-like stall drinking hot drinks to bring her hands back to life. Francisco loves Glühwein (mulled wine) and took the opportunity to enjoy one. We had completed a lap of the place, looked at the historic exhibition, which had nothing from the beginning era, but some stuff from the last 100 years. There wasn’t much else to do because the parents weren’t interested in the rides, Ingrid isn’t able to go on any and I’m not going to do it all by myself. Ingrid’s mum wanted to eat in a restaurant, because it’s warm, comfortable, relaxed and all those nice words.
It turns out that in Zetel, there’s really only one restaurant. It’s a Greek one. Bonus! Francisco got to try Ouzo and loved it. He ate a soup (or drank it, depending on how you like to describe the action of consuming soup), the ladies ordered the same dish, an oven baked lamb and eggplant pie thing. I ordered very similar but with lamb and pasta filling. It’s Greek food, of course it was delicious.
Battling the cold was exhausting, so with filled bellies, we retired to home and slept the warriors sleep.
We were in Varel for a check up on the baby. Still growing in there, no real hint of him coming out to enjoy the cold.
All of the medical talk and waiting made us hungry. It was nearing 14:30 and that usually means the restaurants that are open, will be closing soon to prepare for the dinner shift. We decided to take a walk through Varel and see what Chance would deliver us. We neared Delikato until the sign on the door said that it was closed at exactly 14:30. Bummer. We turned our hungry stomachs to the cold streets. The chef appeared!
He let us in.
Boy oh boy!
The food is of the highest quality, it’s similar to Greek food, very meaty, a great use of herbs and spices, delicious sauces… not much more need be said, really. For some reason, perhaps, pure hospitality, we got a free entrée: a large platter of cucumber, carrot and feta cheese filled pastries to dip into a creamy paprika dip!! It was a very welcome change from the usual service we experience*.
Ingrid ordered a lamb dish, her father and I had some plates of various meats and Ingrid’s mum ordered grilled lamb with vegetables. It arrived to the table still grilling, our eyes following the steam and delicious smell it carried with it to its place on the table. Francisco, Ingrid’s dad, discovered Krombacher beer and really enjoys it. That’ll make it easy and cheap to please him with future drinks.
After we had finished eating, and couldn’t eat any more, the waitress still insisted on dessert, we had to politely refuse and insisted that they enjoy their break time (we were there at least an hour).
*It’s quite normal that if a café/restaurant/food business is closing in an hour, what they mean is that they will not serve you because they are cleaning during that final hour and will go home at closing time. We even had this at a bakery recently, where the lady informed us that closing time was only 30 minutes away and that she still had to turn all the machines off… that’s a typical service experience.
I had been talking with some of my English students about meeting up for Halloween, trying to organise a reunion and have a little fun. They were fine with meeting, but nobody was particularly interested in more than that. I sent photos of costumes, face paint and all those kinds of things. Not even a nibble.
Anyway, Halloween approached and I was trying to book a table for us all at Miss Peppers – one of the few places that mentioned Halloween on their website*. I may have mentioned it before, but if not, every time I call, something different happens and I don’t quite get what I want. I’ll admit my German isn’t great, my pronunciation is sub-par, for some reason this gets me a different result every time I call. One time we were booked under a different name (pronunciation), one time we were booked with an incorrect number of places (probably also pronunciation). This time, nobody would answer my calls. 3 days, 2-3 times per day, no-one answered. After the first day, I checked the number (got it from the website, but still thought it had to be me). On the 3rd day after my attempt to call, I gave up and asked Ingrid. She booked it straight away…
3 of my students, their partners and my wife all talked English and some German for the night. Some of us ate Halloween themed food, featuring pumpkins and ‘blood’ looking things (ketchup being an obvious match for the role). It was a pleasant little get together.
*As an aside, I find it completely strange that places/businesses in Germany, or at least in North Germany, seem to not bother with anything. They rarely advertise. They rarely organise events to encourage customers. They certainly don’t do publicity, many business have their pamphlets inside their door, if they have pamphlets. Not normally a problem, but if the building doesn’t say that the business is inside and you cannot find a webpage or an address for the business on the webpage… this is normal here!