Thursday, May 31, 2012

Farmer Palmer's

During our last visit in Bournemouth two years ago, we made an excursion to a kids' farm, called Farmer Palmer's, teeming with cute animals and fun attractions. Of course this place was a must on our Bournemouth-to-do-list this time as well. We arranged to meet up with Andrew's cousin Holly and her adorable 11-month old daughter Scarlett.

 One of the funniest-looking animals there. He was in with the ducklings and seemed so desperate to get out. 
 Auntie Sandra posing with the two beauties watching the ponies being groomed.
 Sophie seemingly enjoyed taking care of baby Scarlett. It was so cute watching the two of them play.
 Sophie showing Scarlett how to get the most out of a bouncing cow-castle.
 Together on the tractor ride. 
 Look: sunshine in England!
 So, who let the goats out?
Flashback: two years prior.
 Sophie loved petting the guinea pig.
 The farmer and his entourage.
Enough excitement for a day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Beginning of a Fantastic Holiday

Here we are. Finally on our way to see the Queen (and Kate). For the next two weeks we will be touring Britain from the coast of Dorset to the Highlands in Scotland. 
Cute pilot for our Easy Jet flight to Gatwick. 
 It has been a year since Sophie flew with Daddy. The flight was so empty that I had the row to myself in front of them. Although it was sunny in Duesseldorf we had to wait a bit for the fog to lift at Gatwick. That did not bode well. 
 Auntie Sandra fetched us from the airport and here we were in the middle of the New Forest after an al fresco ploughman's lunch and some tea.
 The New Forest is full of wild horses. We spotted some right next to the road.
 Then we walked down a path to look for the wild deer. They were hanging out in the distance.
 We found the truck with the Dorset ice cream. Spicy ice cream (mint chocolate chip) of course for Sophie and rhubarb custard crumble for the rest of us. Yum.
 After a long drive to Auntie Sandra's house in Bournemouth, we quickly stretched our legs at the playground.
- Flashback to March 2010 - 
England in Jubilee fever. Buntings and flags everywhere. All the papers were full of specials on the Queen. We kicked off our Jubilee celebrations in style with this Victoria sponge cake.
 Sophie had the Queen on her piece. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Any Excuse For a Party

We have been very busy this last month especially with traveling (be ready for loads of pictures) that I am only now starting to find time to catch up with posting pictures. 
A few days before we left for Britain, we all went an hour north where Uncle Gerrit and his girlfriend Gerdi live. They had sent us an invitation to a garden party already back in January making sure that we would all be able to make it. 
 Uncle Gerrit is ready for the party or a beer. Fortunately, the weather was gorgeous. Sophie was excited to see her cousins again: here with Talea and Thore.
My brother Stefan joins Uncle Gerrit in entertaining the kids

Talea and Sophie surrounded by pink balloons...
... while Kiron is showing off his chain saw (!) to cousin Thore.
Although there was more delicious food apart from dessert, devouring the mousse au chocolat made for the best shots.
So yummy.
So after the meal, we were stunned to find out that Uncle Gerrit and his girlfriend Gerdi had eloped to a light house by the North Sea two weeks previously and were now celebrating their wedding with all of us. Like I said, we take any excuse for a good party. Congratulations!
Waiting for the toast.
Cheers to that!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer in the City

We took the subway to the city today to look for some sandals for Sophie. Unfortunately, due to the lack of service and choice in the stores, I was much luckier on the internet that evening.
But our trip was not in vain, as we found a nice ice cream place right by the city hall (Sophie also calls this a castle). And to top it off, they had spicy ice cream for the princess.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summertime Play

The gorgeous weather is holding up, so after Sophie's ballet lesson today we scouted out a water playground that was said to be in the park near the gym. My last stupid words to Sophie were: "Try not to get too wet," as I had not brought a towel, but how was that going to be possible. 
 Off she went, and for a full hour she was running around like a maniac having a blast. 

 I caught her with that "Oh my god, I'm having so much fun, I can hardly control myself" - face. 
At the mega-waterpistols

The nice thing was that they had lounge chairs for the big people. 

Found These

Found these on my phone.
 Who can resist this smile?
Cheeky monkey

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not an Early Bird

Sophie takes after me in that she needs some time to get going in the mornings. On some bad days she will even kick and thrash and yell: "Go away!" Once she has had her ten minutes with cheerios and milk to wake up, she is her old self again. And she already is the first kid to go to bed in the neighborhood.
Yes, this is my bed. She sometimes sneaks into bed with me in the middle of the night mostly when Andrew is gone. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Sunny Sunday or Big Sister for an Afternoon

Dare I say it? Could it be that summer is sneaking this way? I am no longer pulling up my shoulders when I go outside either because I am cold or to keep the rain from going down my neck. How I have missed this weather! And I think I am the person who is the most excited about this in Germany because I have already heard so many complaints about the humidity. What humidity? If you want humid and muggy, go to the Eastern half of the U.S. This here is just right.
Finally a sunny (and warm) Sunday!
 Already in the morning, Sophie was busy playing with neighbor boy Andrés in the paddling pool. A big hit! Look at that blue sky over there! And note how we have taken down the wire on the fences (not sure if I had mentioned this before) so that they actually have three gardens to run around in.
 When Andrés had swimming lessons in the afternoon, Sophie got to play big sister for a few hours with little Adrian. She was being very good with him. She did not leave his side.
 She even helped getting him dressed so that we could take a walk over to the playground.
 This is where we ran into Sophie's other new friend, Talisa, who lives right above the ice cream parlor. After they rode their bikes for a while, a long while, we were all ready for some ice cream. A very nice couple let the girls cut ahead of them in line and then treated them to their ice creams. How nice!
And that was the last time we saw Sophie's bicycle in working order. The next day the inner tube had blown. Maybe it's time to upgrade to a seriously roadworthy bicycle. We will have to ask Dad because he is making the money (I quote Sophie).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Not the Baltic Sea nor the North Sea, but...

... the Unterbacher See (See meaning lake).
This large nature area with woods, lake, playgrounds and numerous bike trails is literally in our back garden. Oma came over to visit us for the night, so we gave her Andrew's bike and off we went to explore this Duesseldorf beach.
After some time at the huge playground (I did not take a picture, sorry), we were all thirsty and walked over to the beer garden next door (I love Germany for that). They had even thought of putting a sand box next to the tables. And look who we ran into at the beer garden - our neighbor Andrés and his family! Didn't I say it was literally in our back garden?
(This was before Sophie poured sand all over poor Andrés' head.) 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Face Paintings, Swimming, Biking and Friends

You could say that by now we have settled into a little bit of a routine here in our new home in Düsseldorf. It's quite nice - not too crowded of a schedule, leaving plenty of time for excursions and play. 
Here are a few highlights of what Sophie has been up to over the past couple of weeks, waiting for temperatures to warm up a little so that she can play more outside.
Our little bunny
 While playing at the gym's childwatch on a Sunday morning, she was lucky to have her face beautifully painted by a professional visagist. Needless to say, Sophie enjoys the childwatch and I enjoy my zumba class. ;-)
 On Mondays, Sophie started swimming classes at the gym. When she has learned to swim independently she will take a swimming test called "Sea Horse" certification. The pool is too deep for her to be able to stand anywhere, so for her first class, Andrew jumped in the water with her. By the second week, I was able to just watch her from the side. She is making big improvements, but above all she loves the water and feels so proud to be learning how to swim.
 Learning more important stuff: we took the training wheels off her bike and she has been pedaling laps around our little square which is perfect for bike riding. I'm sure there'll be a few scrapes and bruises before she is steady on two wheels.
 On Saturday, May 12 we went to the Old Town with our neighbors where they had a European Union Festival. Oddly enough the Greece booth seemed to be the most popular one that day. 
Here is Sophie and Andrés enjoying some French Chansons in front of the music stage.
 Of course Sophie could not pass up the face painting booth. And us big people could not pass up the Austrian wine and French tartes flambées.
 This time Sophie chose a dolphin pattern. 
 May is full of holidays in Germany (May Day, Ascension Day and Whitsun). One of them was today, and since the weather was cool but dry, Sophie and I decided to cycle back to the wild animal park in Grafenberg which had that fabulous playground in the woods. We were here last when Sophie's friend Ciaran was visiting. Sophie met some kids the same age at the playground and was brave enough to try out the giant slide over and over again.
 Then we still had a carrot and an apple to give to the bambis. The young wild boar had grown quite a bit and were losing their stripes. There was a bit of a funky smell near the boar enclosure, so we did not linger there for long.
Deer enjoying our apple.
Then it was just an all downhill ride for us home.