Germany June 2010
Well after a fun filled day at work I set off home to get ready for my trip to Germany- a trip I wasn’t even sure I was going on until that morning, thanks to very stubborn kiddy PR lady and a dog amputee (to cut a long story short she was so upset by her dog losing its leg she forgot how to sign a booking form for her ad and until that came through I couldn’t go.) Luckily at the last minute the kiddy lady remembered how to fill in a booking form and I was able to go! Once I arrived home I faced a mad rush of last minute preparations as my dad had text that morning telling me to be ready for when he picked me up or else. I knew I should take this text very seriously as my dad, like me, was not someone to be kept waiting.
Miraculously, I managed to feed the pets, feed myself, pack some last minute essentials (strengtheners, another top, just in case, another pair of trousers, just in case) and to change my Facebook status one last time before my dad arrived promptly at the door to pick me up. Whilst my dad quickly unpacked the car (oh yeah I should have mentioned they had just been on holiday to Greece the week before) my mum began to tell me all about their trip before she got distracted, and nearly had a nervous breakdown at the ‘awful state’ of the house- trust me the house was in no way an awful state, not even a mildly bad state, she just has OCD about these sort of things. Thankfully, just before she had reached full melt down my dad had finished unpacking and it was time for me to go. In the car my dad interrogated me about the past week’s events, gave me a lecture about work (as he so loved to do) and gave me a much less detailed account of his holiday than the previous version I had heard from mum. In summary “it was nice.”
We then arrived at the photographer’s home who I was going to Germany with- or so we thought. I mean the house was slightly bigger than what I had expected, with a massive drive, a brand new Porsche, gigantic windows- not to mention the massive security gates! But in my naïve, slightly dazed state I trusted the SATNAV and rang on the door bell. Instead of being greeted by Matt the photographer, a posh slightly confused woman answered the door.
“Is this 8 Edgeborough court?” I nervously asked.
After a seriously awkward silence (more so for me because as anyone who knows me will know I am physically unable to deal with silences) the posh slightly confused lady told me the place I was looking for was across the road. So my dad and I (well my dad) put my luggage back in the car and drove across the road. Across the road we found a selection of just as nice- more modest- flats that seemed like a lot more likely accommodation for a photographer. Despite this I couldn’t help but still feel a tad nervous ringing the bell. To my delight after ringing the bell I heard matt’s friendly voice and I was instantly filled with relief. My dad then wasted no time in chucking my luggage into matt’s car and saying an unusually for goodbye to me, before remembering I am actually his youngest daughter who he named after himself and kissing me.
I then faced the prospect of making small talk with Matt the photographer, who although had appeared friendly in the few emails and one short phone call we had exchanged, I knew practically nothing about. Luckily, within minutes of the car journey we discovered a shared love for antm and I knew I had nothing to worry about. An hour half, and much antm discussion later, we arrived at our Stansted hotel. The entrance didn’t look ‘too’ bad, but there was a distinct eerie feeling to the hotel. Walking down the endless corridors, with the freaky art on the wall, I half expected to see the twins from The Shining pop. But despite the fear of the freaky twins, as soon as I got in my room after taking a few random photos and watching the end of Never Mind the Buzzcocks I was fast asleep in the surprisingly comfy bed.
Apart from having a mini heart attack when I woke up once and forgot where I was, I managed to sleep quite well and wake up ‘relatively’ perky at 5.15 am. I say relatively as while I am a morning person, I don’t think 5.15 really classes as morning, more like middle of the night. At about 5.45 Matt knocked on my door and we went down to breakfast together. Sadly the eerie feeling of the corridor continued into the hotel restaurant and the selection of stale cornflakes and mouldy looking bread didn’t exactly set my taste buds alight. Luckily being 5.45 am and half asleep I wasn’t that hungry and after a quick sip of water it was time to get the shuttle to the airport. Checking in me and Mat were both slightly anxious about our hand luggage and the weight allowance. This was because with all of his camera equipment and my camera (not the daddy cam btw I know he looks big but even he’s not that heavy) we were slightly over. However we needn’t had worried as they didn’t ask us about our hand luggage at all- few! Matt then played on the ipad in Dixons whilst I tried to fake an interest in.
Boarding time then came around and before the plane had even taken off I was fast asleep. i went on to sleep for pretty much the whole journey until right at the end when I woke up to watch a bit of Donald duck. This was surprisingly funny, especially considering there was no sound and it was just a bee trying to sting Donald, but hey ho simple minds. Landing in Germany I was pleased to feel the 30 degree heat, but not so pleased to see a Chinese man being taken off the plane with a police escort! I felt like I’d been on Conair, only without the funny longhaired Nicholas cage and the cute pink bunny. We then managed to get our luggage and get through security with no troubles and as we entered the arrivals lounge we both looked for a lady holding a kiddy sign. Instead we saw a guy in an army uniform and a slightly bored looking fat woman. Ten minutes later there was still no sign of a kiddy lady so Matt thought we’d better give her a call. After a few failed attempts we managed to get through and I heard a very high pitched German voice tell him that she was very close and she’d been stuck in traffic. A further ten minutes later a tiny slightly flustered woman entered the arrivals lounge and apologised a lot. She then took me and Matt into a nicely airconditioned kiddy car (a black people carrier with the word kiddy printed all over it) and told us our itinerary for the weekend. First we would go to our hotel in the small village called the hof (I know you immediately think hassle) to freshen up, then we would go for lunch at the factory, then we would get a tour , a demonstration and then dinner with the Wurstels (the kiddy owners.)
The journey from the airport to the hotel took about hour and a half and while I would have LOVED to have gone back to sleep, the tiny kiddy lady was insistent on talking the whole way. You couldn’t get mad at her though because she was really sweet and it was quite interesting hearing her views on Sex and the City, Germany’s Next Top Model and Eurovision- even though they won and we came last! When we arrived at the hotel I felt like I was in the Mask of Zorro (sorry for another crap movie reference) but with the stables, the heat and a really tanned little guy walking around, you could imagine Antonio Banderes just popping out from somewhere- ok maybe slight exaggeration but did feel like I was in Spain. After waiting around the hotel courtyard for a good half an hour, playing with the cats, stroking the horses and speaking to the donkey, the hotel landlady finally came to tell us rooms were not ready yet but we could put our luggage in another room for now and freshen up there until our other rooms were ready. A slap of lip gloss and brush of the hair later me and Matt were then taken to the factory where we given a much better selection of food for lunch. I had a bit of salmon and salad and Matt had a parma ham roll, a beef roll, salad and a lot of biscuits!
After lunch we were met by Bettina Wurstel, the lady behind kiddy. I had been warned by the PR lady that she was a big personality, but I was still a bit taken back as she bursted in kissing me twice and greeted in me in a very strong (and loud) German accent. The whole trip I was trying to think what celebrity she reminded me of until I finally decided, for some reason even though she wasn’t black, she reminded me of Oprah crossed with Linda Belingham- if you can imagine that combination. She took me and Matt on a tour of the carseat factory and to the showroom where the tiny kiddy lady that had got us from the airport showed us a lot of carseat demonstrations. This was about as exciting as it sounds. A carseat power point presentation later and it was time for dinner. The tiny kiddy lady took me and Matt to this, lets say rustic, Italian restaurant. (note when I say rustic I don’t mean the sort of rustic you see in Bertoli adverts, more like the rustic you used to see in a greasy spoon.) At the restaurant we met Bettina again, her husband Yanstefan and their two children Gloria and Max. Yanstefan was everything you’d expect from a German man (not to sound too racist or stereotypical) he loved hunting, his hair was blonde, he was really tall and his views weren’t exactly politically correct. The only thing he didn’t have was a swastika and a moustache. Max and Gloria were really cute, although I did get worried when Max kept saying some German stuff about me and Bettina and Yanstefan kept telling him off. Ordering the food was scary to say the least as the menus were written completely in German and the waiter spoke no English at all. After smiling whilst I pretended to understand the menu for a good 5-10 minutes I decided to go with a dish that had the word fishce in it. Thankfully when the waiter brought out my meal it was some actually really nice fish and vegetables. I tried to order some water too but despite saying ‘STILL’ and using my best sign language skills, I kept getting this disgusting fizzy water.
To go along with the rustic setting of the restaurant the service was decidedly slow. So slow in fact that it was a full three and half hours after entering that we got our bill and were able to leave. Now I know that sounds like I was being kept prisoner rather than being a guest in a restaurant but when you’ve been up since five and all you want is your bed this is what it feels like- well it did for me anyway! Sadly the restaurant wasn’t the end of the day as Bettina and Yanstefan insisted on showing Mat and I their home before the photoshoot the next day. Don’t get me wrong their house was lovely but in my dazed extremely sleepy state I couldn’t help but find the whole experience slightly disturbing as they walked us around their country estate, filled with stuffed stags heads, ferrets, hogs and most freaky their old pet Alsation! After the stuffed dog we decided it was definitely time to call it a night and Bettina drove me and Mat to our hotel. When we got back we were given the keys to our new rooms and after taking some more random shots with the daddy cam I collapsed on the bed and fell into a deep deep sleep.
The next morning I awoke refreshed and reenergised, sadly the same could not be said for Matt who had been kept awake by the heat, the mosquitoes, the thunder and most annoyingly the donkey. It was alright though because he soon perked up after munching on the cereal, yoghurt, muesli, malt loaf, fruit and boiled eggs that had been put on for us for breakfast- I was happy sticking with my bowl of cereal. We then checked out before Bettina picked us up wearing much more makeup and smarter clothes in preparation for her photoshoot and interview. When we got to the house we decided to do the interview first, partly because it would be quicker than the photoshoot, partly because the kids were still asleep so there would be less distraction and partly because I was really scared and wanted to just get it over and done with. Fortunately though, once Bettina and I sat down in the kitchen and the camera started to roll my fear soon subsided, and somehow I managed to remember all of my questions without looking down at the paper once! Shortly after the interview, the kids woke up and Yanstefan arrived home all ready for the photoshoot. I then watched and ‘assisted’ with the photoshoot. Ok maybe assisted is a little bit strong but I did stand in certain places so Matt could test the lighting. This was really fun watching the different shots on the lake and in the old barn, although after a while I did start to feel a bit red and flustered (not to sound like a menopausal woman or anything) as it was 30 degrees and I wasn’t wearing any sun cream. Thankfully before I turned into a complete tomato the shoot was over and Bettina took us back to the factory for… I’m not quite sure what actually before taking us to another Italian restaurant for lunch.
This one was a lot more organised and cleaner than the one before. And while the menu was still not in English I did manage to order some delicious parma ham and a glass of STILL water! As lunch drew on and the sun got hotter and hotter my refreshed and reenergised self from the morning began to fade and all I wanted was to have a big nap. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, a nap wasn’t on the itternary and after lunch me and Matt were taken back to the factory to watch ANOTHER presentation on carseat safety demonstrations. This presentation was A LOT worse than the ones the day before as instead of the enthusiastic kiddy lady doing the presentation it was an insanely obese man with a face like the Bo Selecta version of David Blane. – I know that sounds really harsh, and he might of not been THAT ugly in reality, but in my tired slightly grouchy state that is what he looked like to me. As the presentation went on, I managed to go into a sort of dream like state but with my eyes open. Thankfully Matt managed to retain slightly more interest than me and actually asked the odd question to the Bo Selecta look alike in the presentation. After what felt like a non ending torture device of carseat accident graphs and statistics, the enthusiastic tiny kiddy lady came in and told us it was time to take us to the airport. There are no words to the relief I felt at this moment. On the journey back to the airport I tried really hard to stay awake and talk to the enthusiastic tiny kiddy lady because she was being so sweet asking me all these random questions about England but after about half an hour I gave up being polite and went to sleep. Mat did the same and hour’s sleep later we arrived at the airport. Another painless check in, with absolutely no weighing of hand luggage, later, we searched for some food to eat before we got on the plane. The choice was limited so I ended up going with an extremely salty, but still extremely delicious, pretzel and Mat got this weird cheesy sugary pastry thing, this yoghurty muesli concoction and a bottle of coke. Once we’d finished our grub it was time to the board the plane, made up of 95% sweaty, rather grumpy looking, business men. None more so than the grey business man sitting next to me, smelling like he hadn’t used deodorant for a good 10-15 years. On the plane ride home I suddenly had a random burst of energy and annoyingly couldn’t fall asleep but couldn’t really be bothered to read anything. So I thought maybe if I started writing that’ll wear me out, taking me to now writing away. Sadly I’m not worn out but the plane is nearly landed so at least I had something to keep me entertained for the journey. I hope you’ve enjoyed these rather boring ramblings and until next time…
Auf vie diesen xxxx