Author Archives: raepizer

Ski girls

Our German daughter

March 13, 2018
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We’ve been living in Germany for 3 three and a half years now. I was expecting by this point I would be fluent in German, but alas this is not the case. I can get by. Mostly I work every day in English so it doesn’t help my German. Admittedly I learn mostly new words from my experiences with my daughter’s world.

Yes, it’s her world. German is now I guess her first language and she is very happy now in the local German Grundschule (Primary School) . She is doing well at school and much happier than at Kindergarten I would say but that possibly could be that it’s taken so long to settle fully and feel integrated for her.  She is learning to read well, doing well in mathematics and seems to have no problems despite starting school a year early in Bavaria life. She is a member of the School Choir also. Outside of school, she continues with Ballet, Piano, Swimming, Rainbows, Athletics, Science Experiment class and Trachtenverein (Bavarian dancing). Winter is coming to an end and she is now ski-ing Red runs with no problem (most likely faster than us already), and cycling long distances with her new bike. We even ice skated together this year now my knee is better (but we both need more practise). Life here is definitely good.  I still continue to be amazed by all the opportunities we have here to be surrounded by beautiful landscapes and do fu activities. Someone once asked me what Centre Parcs was like and quite honestly, its like living in a Centre Parcs here in Munich but with the added winter sports.  Like.

Chicken makhan wala/Cream Chicken

March 13, 2018
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500 gms chicken – diced
3 onions chopped
1 tomato chopped
250 ml cream (used for cooking)
1/2 inch ginger grated
4 to 5 pods of Garlic chopped
1 & 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
2 tbsp Coriander powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 & 1/2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil

Heat a pan, add all ingredients except cream and salt
Sauté for 5 min on medium heat
Add salt and cover the lid
Keep stirring occasionally for another 3 to 4 mins
By this time Chicken will get tender and cooked
Add cream and boil on high for 2 mins and turn off the flame


Crafting the Schuletüte

June 20, 2017

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Last night I spent my evening crafting a Schuletüte at Kindergarten (and very much burning my fingers on hot glue!)



What? Why? Well it’s tradition here that a child starting school carries a Schuletüte to school on their first day of school. The Schuletüte is a very large decorated cone in which family, friends and neighbours all put treats for the child, which usually includes sweeties and gifts such as rubbers, pencils, pencil sharpeners, and even an alarm clock – all in preparation for school start.

I have yet to really find out what happens on the first day but one little girl is very much looking forward to it and is very excited to be starting school in September. It’s a true rite of passage here in Germany and the whole family celebrates this day.

Children in Bavaria start school mostly in the September after their 6th birthday. However children who have birthdays between September and December are what is knows as Kann-kinder which means they can go to school if they are deemed ready. Isabella falls within that category and has been ‘approved’ to start this year. More importantly, despite most of her class starting next year, she wants to go this year.  And so the preparation begins…

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice cream

January 21, 2017
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  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 punnets of pureéd, strained raspberries
  • 1 cup. whipping cream (Shlagrahm)
  • 1 cup. whole milk


  • In a large bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth; add sugar and continue whisking until combined. Whisk in raspberries, followed by cream and milk until fully incorporated.
  • Pour mixture into ice-cream maker; process according to manufacturer instructions.
  • (Add in chocolate chips)

Too Kool for Skool (yet)

September 7, 2016
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Almost two months into my new job and our new phase here in Germany and I have to admit that it isn’t so scary. I’m lucky – I work for a good employer who allow me the flexibility to work from home when it’s needed, and I have great colleagues both here in Germany and beyond, around EMEA and the US. Our Nanny is super lovely and B enjoys spending time with her.

It’s a strange week as all of B’s age friends in England have been starting school, while B has still 2 years officially before she starts school here in Germany, although being December-born she could go next year if she’s ready. I’m not sure I see any advantage to rushing to school, but she shall start Vorschule (the year before school they have special classes each day to help aid concentration and learning to sit still) where she is likely to receive German lessons also. We shall then see how she is getting on before we make any decisions. In so many ways she is growing up fast and yet in so many ways she is still my baby, probably emphasised by my greater absence in her day. We so much look forward to evenings, weekends and holidays so we can spend full days together. Our relationship is still strong. I make time for special time together – last week we went into the mountains with some girlfriends which was awesome. We had lots of fun and it was, as always, great to watch her with her friends.

I will be very interested to see the differences between B and her friends in terms of their development now. In Germany the focus is on learning through play.  Children learn from each other, experiment more and are allowed the freedom to make mistakes, assess risks themselves and learn how to be part of a group. They start school after their 6th birthday when they are so ready to learn that they pick it up really quickly (or so I am told). In England the system is more adult-led. Play is supervised more closely and school starts at 4 where a structured learning environment is created. All the children I know love it so I’m not sure there is a right or wrong way, just different ways.

Bavaria is changing somewhat after the shootings in the Munich shopping mall. Oktoberfest this year is a good example – no bags allowed in and it’s a gated event rather than just wandering in from the underground stations. It’s a bit frightening but I guess no more than my time in London.  For me, I’d rather head south to the mountains for a relaxing day than into the centre. We swam in a pool by Kochel am See at weekend – it was truly wonderful, including the water slides – B’s favourite. It’s almost the end of summer now though and the leaves are starting to turn. Autumn is a wonderful season here so I’m looking forward to some forest walks. Perhaps we’ll sneak in a trip to England before winter is upon us and Father Christmas starts preparing his reindeer.

Dancing in the rain

Dancing in the rain

June 30, 2016

It’s been a week since the UK voted to leave the EU (Brexit) and it seems all the news is talking about. It’s what everyone wants to talk about here – were we for or against and what do we think will happen to us Brits in Germany. Bella and I are lucky enough to be able to benefit from Irish citizenship, enabling us to still enjoy freedom of movement whatever happens, something that we obviously support as otherwise we would not be here enjoying our life in Germany, and so I am not too concerned with Bella’s future from that perspective. For UK children I am sad.  I wait to see what will happen, who the new PM will be, what negotiations are made with the EU, and what that means for my family.

For now though, I have other things on my mind. One more sleep and it’s the final countdown… tomorrow me and my girl fly to England for a holiday – to spend time with some of our friends – however next week she flies back to Germany with daddy and I stay in England for another week to start my full-time job. Never one to just dip my toe, I am leaping into this with a full week away from my family – as if returning to a full-time job and asking a stranger to look after my child would be hard enough, I won’t even be able to administer evening cuddles before bed, or read the bedtime story.

It’s going to be a tough transition for our family; less time to enjoy together, more shared chores and responsibilities, a Nanny for Bella to get to know. I know that it will be a tricky time ahead but as always I am confident that once we find our equilibrium again, our new routine, we will be strong and happy once more. I look at my daughter now and the transition she has made from England to Germany, the language she has learnt, the new friends she has made, the little person she is becoming and she has achieved so much already. I am infinitely proud. I am confident that we will make this work. Thats what we do – we make things work and we enjoy the challenges life throws at us. As the motto on our wall says – “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain”. I love dancing in the rain (probably due to me growing up in Manchester) – which is fortunate as summer so far in Munich has had plenty of rainstorms!

The Birds (April 20, 2016)

May 29, 2016
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I was up at 5am yesterday as I had to travel to England for an interview – you know I’ve lived here now for 18months but I’ve never really heard the dawn chorus the way I heard it yesterday – it was almost deafening. The sun wasn’t quite up and I walked down my road next to the forest and I could hear what must’ve been hundreds if not thousands of birds all awake and calling to one another. it really made me imagine them calling “hey George – you awake over there? We’re about to go worm hunting – wanna come? ” – “yeah – just waking up the missus – I’ll meet you there – betcha I get a bigger one than you” … “Never” …    It was truly amazing.

I grew up in a suburb of Manchester, England – it was an exciting day if we saw a Robin or Blue Tit among the plethora of Starlings and Sparrows in the garden- Here the Tits are the commonest birds in the garden – with the Redstarts, Robins, Finches all making an appearance. Today I sit in the garden eating my lunch, feeling the sun on my face and listening to the birds – not as yesterday’s splendour but still I can’t help thinking I’ve definitely fallen in love with this country- and yet it’s a country I had barely visited before our move out here, one I knew little about.

Yesterday as I caught sight of some English schoolchildren all walking hand in hand followed by their teachers, a couple kicking empty beer cans on the ground I realised that it felt really at odds – I wouldn’t expect to see that here where it feels like the countryside and community is respected. I’m not yet sure if I’m still in some honeymoon period or whether things like that really are different.

Everyone can dance…

April 17, 2016
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when you find music that you love.

Spring (Fruhling) is here, the gardens are awakening and the animals in the forest are dancing to a new beat. Life here is still good for us.


Snow season is over and we have packed away the skis and sledges. We love winter here, building snowmen, throwing snowballs, and making our snow angels but this year B started her skiing lessons too. Physically she is growing up so fast, already riding her bike to the animal hide and back (6km ) and now swimming too – she got her Frog badge a couple of months ago. She started the local gymnastics class last week and in September we might even look at Ballet classes. In a few weeks it’s Maimusi, a local festival celebrating May Day and Bella’s Trachtenverein ( Traditional Club) Dance troop will perform again. I’m really very proud of her.

Meanwhile my German is still progressing. I am still not working here yet but making use of my time to learn German (if only to keep up with Bella’s) and to be honest we’ve had a lot of visitors recently, all of which have enjoyed their visit here very much. I feel so lucky to have the mountains so close by. Steve and I bought our first Lederhosen and Dirndl last week – so well and truly embracing Bavarian life. I am looking forward to what Spring and Summer may bring as we grow together in our new life here. – Already it’s been 18months, and I can remember how tough it was to start with but so far worth every bit of effort.

Snowy Road

The path ahead… 2016.

January 10, 2016
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And so 2016 – it’s the New Year and for us a very important one. It will be a year of decisions about our future and what’s best for our little family.

It’s funny I would never have ever considered living in Germany – it was only chance that the right job came up for S and it seemed like an opportunity for us to experience something new. We had thought that me getting a good job here was going to be easier but senior roles are few and far between and many require fluent German. That said, I am so much more confident with my German now and only have about another 2 months of school before I should be just speaking it as much as possible. Hopefully this is all a positive step to finding that job.

Meanwhile, I still believe that our location in the world is fantastic. Even on a rainy day I know that soon the winds will push the clouds away and the pure blue mountain sky will be seen once more. The air feels good. The views are beautiful. The people wonderful (mostly). We are happy.

I still remain concerned at the few opportunities women have to keep careers and raise a family, but that for Isabella is a long time away and perhaps there will be positive change by then. What’s important though is that the same sense of community that exists here in our little village remains.

B’s now riding her bike with us, taking proper swimming lessons and continuing her dancing at the local Trachtenverein. She has music lessons at kindergarten and I am teaching her to read and write, the later of which she is already progressing well. She starts her skiing lessons in a couple of weeks’ time too. It’s amazing to watch my baby grow up into a beautiful young girl, and most definitely one with opinions! Her English buddies will all start school this year so it will be interesting to see how different approaches to education manifest should we stay here. For now, I am not worried about the “play’ approach here as it seems to be developing B’s physical skills more when she’s naturally more of a thinker so I think it balances well.

Princess Cake

Ta da… the Princess Cake! B is 4!

January 10, 2016
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Two days, burnt cakes, hands stuck together with marshmallow…

but I did it.

Thank you internet for the help. (

I first made the marshmallow towers. This was sticky. I used 2 child beakers and a tupperware as moulds. I melted the marshamallow and added the Rice Krispies my parents had brought from UK for me. It was the stickiest, gooiest thing ever and I thought I was going to end up stuck to the towers too. I left these to set overnight. I got onto thinking about stacking the cakes and that I didn’t have any dowels… googling skewers suggested not using them so I found some good wooden chopsticks instead. Hurrah.

I remembered I hadn’t bought ice cream cones so went searching for them – in December! – None in the supermarket.  I remembered a great ice cream outlet nearby and explained to them I wanted to buy some empty cones – they gave them to me for free!

IMG_3341I rolled them in royal icing and dipped them in hundreds and thousands – then left them to set overnight.

I baked my two chocolate cakes – actually I burnt them! And so back to the shop for more eggs and I baked them again. This time they were good.

The next morning I made up some chocolate buttercream for the centres. I sliced the cakes into two (whoops – a bit wonkily) – I was at this point thinking this most definitely will be a cake wreck. I added the butter cream and left the cakes while I started on the base.

Of course I was using a bigger base then the instructions and so I didn’t have enough green. I used jam on the board to stick the fondant – and of course it went everywhere. Okay – this isn’t going to be a perfect cake. I was feeling a bit disheartened. I carried on. I cut a path and filled it with the hundreds and thousands. Next I needed to cover the cakes in fondant. I was very worried.

I rolled the light pink fondant and actually didn’t do too bad a job at cake covering and so I also covered the next cake. I cut the chopsticks down by sawing them to the size I then placed the cakes on the base.

I rolled the darker pink fondant into strips and  used a cookie cutter to cut out the squares for the turrets and the armaments. These were tricky to attach to the cake. I used water only to attach pieces together so lots of holding and repositioning until it was dry/stuck.  I used some lilac fondant to make the  windows and made some brown fondant for the doors.  I also made some flowers and stems from pink/purple and green fondants to decorate although I didn’t do too much as I knew I had the playmobil as decorations. When I was happy with it I arranged the playmobil bits (shrubs, fountain, princesses, etc.

Actually it wasn’t a wreck – it actually looked okay – and the next morning when B saw the cake she was amazed! She loved it. Success. Now I have a year to think of a 5 cake!


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