My Love For The UK

 
I had planned to write a post about my visit to my lovely friend Sarah at the end of May. And then Brexit happened, so I felt that I had to share some of my thoughts on this too.

I first set foot in the UK twenty-five years ago, when I came as an au pair to learn English. Back then, being Swiss meant that the family I was going to work for had to get a permit for me. The many reasons I fell in love with the country I described in my Manchester – An Anniversary post, if you want to have a read. I spent a year in England and came back, intending to stay, a year later, having in the meantime lived in Vienna to learn German, gone to Australia and worked in Switzerland. I did apply for jobs, but again, my nationality was a real obstacle. My only hope was for the December 1992 Swiss referendum to join the EEE to be accepted. 78,73% of the population voted and it was refused by 50.3%… Sounds familiar? My last hope had been crushed and I went back to Switzerland, both angry and heartbroken.

Of course, in the greater scheme of things, my personal experience is not that important. But now that my two daughters have lost overnight the “European passport” they had thanks to their British father, it makes me really sad that they, like thousands and thousands of other young people, might experience the same disillusion. To encounter difficulties in getting a university spot or a job in the country of their choice, or worse, to see their dream disintegrate should not have happened, in my opinion. And for the moment, I am clinging to the hope that somehow, it will not.

Meanwhile, my love relationship with the UK continues and I am looking forward to making more and more memories. Like the ones created during my recent trip: going to a charity barn dance, walking along the sea on that gorgeous South coast, and eating fish and chips in the pub. Or having cream tea in the gardens of Highcliffe Castle and sharing tapas, wine and laughs with friends in Bournemouth.

Until next time.
 
 
Going to a barn dance with our checked shirts and cowgirl boots
Healthy juice for brunch
South Coast of England
Enjoying a walk along the sea in the UK
Arriving at the beach in the UK
HighCliffe Castle UK
Carved wooden bench UK
Pretty courtyard in Lymington UK
 
 
 
 

A Moment Of True Happiness

 
The last six months of 2015 were filled with our massive house renovation project (see Buying And Renovating A House | Part I and Buying And Renovating A House | Part II) and our move.

This spring, it is our garden we are busy with, transforming it into our own little corner of paradise. Ivy was pulled out and more plants took its place in the hedge, grass was planted in front of the kitchen/dining room and a new home found for bushes. Lovely sand stones got a new life as steps and a bench. Old garden furniture has been repainted and the hammock under the cherry tree is quickly becoming a favourite spot.

And there is the garden house. Originally a simple shed, we decided it was far too pretty to be used as storage. It has been painted in grey and white and left over wooden floor from the lounge installed. The idea is to be able to stay “outside” when it is cooler in the evenings or starting to drizzle, so there is a day bed and a little table in it. An Indian screen and an old trunk hide what needs to stay out of sight. We are almost there, I just need to print some photos to put in the lovely frame I bought and when we go to the South of France this summer, we will buy a painting as the finishing touch.

Last weekend, I was sitting outside, relaxing while colouring in the book I had borrowed from Second Daughter. I was doing my best to ignore the ominous dark clouds gathering, until the wind picked up and the storm started. Instead of rushing back to the house, I opened the garden house and took refuge inside. Sexy Hubby, braving the elements in true Viking style, brought me a glass of white wine and some salted almonds. It was pouring down yet I was safe and cosy, looking at our lovely new home while inhaling the fresh smell rain brings.

I smiled. This was just perfect, a moment of true happiness, a moment of grace.
 
 
Colouring Book and Crayons
 
 
 
 

Hanami In Germany

 
Last Sunday, Second Daughter and I headed off to Ludwigshafen am Rhein to attend a Hanami festival. Hanami literally means “flower viewing” and is commonly used for the traditional observation of cherry blossom. In our case, it referred to a cosplay convention.

Second Daughter is fascinated by Japanese pop culture and she had been looking forward to this convention for weeks. She had arranged to meet with her friends and I had a date with my beloved camera. I was not disappointed. Every time I turned around, there was a new photo opportunity. I was gobsmacked by the amount of work and attention to details many cosplayers had put into their costumes. The atmosphere was very convivial and the sunny weather added to the festive mood. The full photo gallery is available on my Of Lens And Pen website.

The convention took place over two days and offered many activities for the manga and anime fans: shows, karaoke, contests, workshops and plenty of shopping and eating possibilities, of course! Second Daughter spent more or less all the money she had been saving and was especially delighted with the art she bought. Talking to some of the artists present was definitely a highlight for her.

After about five very interesting hours, we decided to call it a day and made our way home. Second Daughter is already dreaming about next year, and about attending the cosplay day at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October and EpicCon in December…
 
 
„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein
 
Letzten Sonntag sind meine Tochter und ich nach Ludwigshafen am Rhein gefahren, um ein Hanami Festival zu besuchen. Hanami bedeutet “Blumen besichtigen” und wird normalerweise bei der Kirschblüte-Beobachtung verwendet. In unserem Fall war es eine Cosplay-Convention.

Meine Tochter ist von der Japanischen Kultur fasziniert und sie hat sich auf dieses Ereignis schon seit Wochen gefreut. Sie hatte geplant, sich mit ihren Freundinnen zu treffen und ich hatte ein Date mit meiner geliebten Kamera. Ich wurde nicht enttäuscht. Jedes Mal, wenn ich in einer anderen Richtung guckte, fand ich neue Gelegenheit für ein Foto. Ich war von der Arbeit und der Liebe zum Detail, die viele Cosplayer in ihren Kostüme gesteckt hatten, sehr beeindruckt. Die Atmosphäre war sehr gesellig und das sonnige Wetter sorgte auch für gute Laune. Die gesamte Bildergalerie ist auf meiner Website Of Lens And Pen zu finden.

Die Convention fand über zwei Tage statt und bot viele Veranstaltungen für Mangas- und Animes-Fans: Shows, Karaoke, Wettbewerbe, Workshops und natürlich, ausreichende Shopping- und Essens-Möglichkeiten! Meine Tochter gab fast das gesamte Geld, das sie gespart hatte, aus und war von den Bildern, die sie gekauft hat, besonders begeistert. Mit verschiedenen Künstlern zu reden war für sie ein Highlight.

Nach ungefähr fünf sehr interessanten Stunden haben wir uns entschieden, nach Hause zu fahren. Meine Tochter träumt schon vom nächsten Jahr, und auch davon, den Cosplay Tag auf der Franfkurter Buchmesse im Oktober und EpicCon im Dezember zu besuchen…
 
 
„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein„Hanami – Con meets festival“ in Ludwigshafen am Rhein
 

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Musikmesse Frankfurt

 
On Saturday April 9th, we visited the Musikmesse in Frankfurt. Sexy Hubby was excited at the idea of being surrounded by guitars and trying them. I was impatient to take some cool photos. And both of us were looking forward to catching up with The Dead Daisies, after attending their acoustic gig at the Hard Rock Café and seeing them open for KISS in Hamburg last year.

As we arrived, Sexy Hubby headed straight for the Yamaha stand and as you can see below, he spent some time trying the different models of their new Revstar range. I am not sure he has quite decided which one to get yet…

Sexy Hubby then inspected lots of effect pedals and amps in the biggest exhibition hall, where the drums were located too. Even though the level of decibels is of courses restricted, we came to the conclusion that employees on stand duty there the whole day must be pretty exhausted at the end of the day! The ambiance was great, though, with lots of people trying instruments, sometimes spontaneously playing together.

Around 12:30 we made our way to the Center Stage, where The Dead Daisies were scheduled to play. We arrived just at the right time, the band performing before them had just finished their set, people were leaving and we managed to secure a front row spot. We had a blast listening to The Dead Daisies and discovering Long Way To Go, the first title of their new album. Make Some Noise will be released on August 5th and the band has just announced some tour dates too. All info can be found on their official website. Of course being right at the front made it easier for me to take photos, but it was frustrating all the same not to have front stage access! The full gallery is available on my photography and writing website, Of Lens And Pen, and I would love to hear what you think.

We then only had another hour or so before having to head home, as we had a party planned that evening. It was enough time to come across Thor and a rather unusual hammer… As First Daughter plays the violin and the piano, I had a look at electric violins for her too. Next year we will no doubt spend longer at the Musikmesse!
 
 
Musikmesse Frankfurt - Motorbike and Revstar GuitarMusikmesse Frankfurt - Yamaha Revstar GuitarMusikmesse Frankfurt - Guitar Pedal ComponentsMusikmesse Frankfurt - Guitar AmpMusikmesse Frankfurt - ImpressionMusikmesse Frankfurt - Electric ViolinsMusikmesse Frankfurt - Motoerhead DrumsMusikmesse Frankfurt - Band PlayingMusikmesse Frankfurt - The Dead Daisies - Marco MendozaMusikmesse Frankfurt - The Dead Daisies - John CorabiMusikmesse Frankfurt - The Dead Daisies - Doug AldrichMusikmesse Frankfurt - The Dead Daisies - Marco Mendoza and Brian TichyMusikmesse Frankfurt - The Dead Daisies - David LowyMusikmesse Frankfurt - The Dead Daisies - Crowd Shot

Photo courtesy of The Dead Daisies

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