Oh darn! Where has the year gone? Well, I don’t know! I really don’t know. It’s as if it had just been yesterday that I treated myself to strawberry cake in bed for breakfast, opening all the presents I had ordered and meeting up for birthday dinner at my favourite despised “Sissi&Franz” restaurant for burgers with a colleague of mine.

And now it’s here again, my birthday! One year older, one year wiser (yeah, as if) and one year closerto getting home.

This year, I had to take the day off – which I usually do – to celebrate myself. My birthday plans? A nice breakfast with fresh rolls, deli, fruit, yogurt … the whole shebang! And cake! Of course, I will have a birthday cake! Of the Ikea kind (Daim cake) bought myself. Yes, I admit it, I’m just too lazy to bake my own birthday cake. Even though I would crave to once again have the wonderful cake my mother always baked. A hazelnut cake with buttercream chocolate frosting and filling. And I guess, I would still enjoy it the way I used to in those days. Dissecting my slice of cake, first eating the cake itself, followed by the delicious cream. Oh my, I do miss this cake. I can’t even remember the last time I had it. It must be 15 years at least. At least!!!

Well, after a nice breakfast I will, once again, open the presents I got myself (what would I do without Amazon) and which I have been collecting since January. (With the next collection starting afterwards for Christmas …) So, there is a nice stack of parcels still hidden in my closet and since I’ve been collecting for many months, most of them will be surprises. Who remembers what one ordered in January, huh? I certainly don’t. Because, never again I will have a Christmas or birthday with no presents. Even if I have to buy them myself!

My joy will then continue by adding my new books (yep, my gifts to myself are mostly books, as usual) to my “unread book” list and store them away in the “unread book shelf”.

The rest of the day I will just enjoy, hopefully on the balcony when the weather is nice and either go out for dinner in the evening or order in (something I do quite rarely). Hoping, that this will be my last birthday in Germany and the next will already be back home in Austria. With friends and family …



… thrown in with a little gothic and lots of musicals. Well, thinking about my musical preferences I guess I’m pretty versatile. What I don’t like at all, however, is traditional music, “Schlager”, jazz, blues, hip hop and rap. Apart from that? I’m as comfortable in a classical concert as with heavy metal. Which taste I have acquired for thanks to my best friend a few years back. He took me to my first concert. “BöhseOnkelz” no less and it was quite a culture shock for me, though. I felt a bit out of space … and would have preferred them NOT to sing but just enjoy their instrumental music. A few months later, we went to their festival and it was awesome. Just awesome. Great show and great atmosphere. And I started to really like them. I even have some of their songs on my iPhone now and whenever I’m in a bad mood I put them on, loudly, singing along with open car windows and feeling just good again. (Don’t want to know what the people on the streets are thinking, however, when they see me in business outfit in my flashy British car with this kind of music driving through town … but as usual, I don’t care what others think about me!)

Since this first concert, some years have passed and I got to know many other bands I hadn’t heard before. But every single event we went to, I loved very much. I liked the music. Some better, of course. But I liked every one of them. We have established a concert driving routine. Meeting up in time, stocking up on snacks and beverages and off we go. He is bringing the CDs, and since I mostly don’t know the band we are going to see, it’s him singing along for the often several-hours-long drives. (Hence, we need plenty of snacks to sustain us: gummi bear stuff is obligatory, cookies a nice addition and energy drinks a must.) Me pitching in on the rare occasion I DO know one of the songs.

At the concerts themselves we share “Radler” – a beer lemonade mix – and if available, bratwurst in a bun or curry sausage with fries. After all, jumping around for more than two hours is exhausting … but so much fun. What I absolutely hate, though, is this “pogo” dancing or rather, jumping, basically just pushing each other around senselessly. There is just no point! Apart from getting hurt and being doused with sticky stinking beer from everyone around. My friend always tries to keep me away and protect me from those crazy guys, but … well, I still always watch them too to not being bumped around and can’t concentrate on the guys on the stage. This does spoil the whole heavy metal / gothic / hard rock experience for me a bit. But nevertheless, I love those outings, cause I never know what to expect in case of new bands. Or looking forward to those I already know.

After the concerts, especially on return trips of more than one hour, we stop at McDonalds for a midnight meal to survive the drive back home. What could be a better end to a concert trip for two crazy, exhaustedpeople in their 40s? Exactly! What’s next on ourschedule? I don’t know. But I never do! And it’s perfect the way it is! So, I will be waiting for the next trip as soon as possible!


I’m bored! I’m so bored! I can’t remember a time I’ve been so bored. You’re asking yourself, “What in the hell is she doing NOW? What can be so mindnumbingly boring?”

I’ll tell you! I’m in Austria and being a good friend I’m jumping in for the afternoon at my former working place, torturing an 8th grader, who’s got a written English test next week. How do teachers do it? Teaching the same stuff every year for … well, forever? I’m so endlessly bored waiting for my student to finish the exercise that I’m chewing my well-manicured nails and looking at my watch every other minute.

The weird thing is, I had been doing this English (and German) tutoring for more than ten years and don’t know how I did it without hopping mad. It’s as if I’d never stopped doing this. As if I’d never been away. Rattling on about the tenses and their use, Passive Voice, Reported Speech, Adverb-Adjective … and then the stories. They are the same! Can you believe it? They are still the same! My gosh, it’s as if I’d given my last lesson to an 8th grader two days ago – and not five years!

I still remember the stories by just reading the headlines. (How tragic I that? That I can still remember all those stories?) My student’s chapters are about Extreme Sports (Boxing, Climbing El Capitan and basketball) and Native Americans, how they live today, the Trail of Tears and a story called “Indian Heaven”. Dozens of students, dozens of times, dozens of hours chewing through the same grammar, the same stories, the same exercises. How happy I always had been of the times I could teach senior high school students. Where all I had to do was doing conversations, giving them topics to write and correcting them. How much more gratifying, challenging and satisfying.

And now I’m back in my old life for a brief time, and I’m so annoyed with myself that I could kick my butt. Instead of enjoying one of those marvellous ice cream sundaes at the “Cortina” I’m stuck here in an endless loop … and then … thankfully I wake up. Ohmy gosh, it was just a dream. A bad dream. Cause I just couldn’t do this anymore. I’m so grateful to be allowed to live the life I live. With a job I like, earning enough money to be independent and afford some small luxuries like my books and travelling.


Now, THAT’S the real reason I was in Bristol. To attend the CrimeFest. And after three weeks of waiting – or four? If you count in the travel prep post – it’s definitely time for my big vacation event! CrimeFest is a crime and mystery book convention usually happening every year (apart from the past two pandemic years) and that’s exactly how long I had to wait to attend. Having booked it in 2019.

It was the first time I was taking part in something like this. And it’s another item to scratch off my list of things I absolutely wanted to do.

With perfect timing, I arrived back at the hotel to get registered and pick up my goodie bag, filled with the programme and four complimentary books. And of course, I bought a CrimeFest T-Shirt right away.Souvenirs, souvenirs.

At 1:30 pm the first panel started and I was hooked right away. And believe it or not, I attended every single time slot panel – since some were running at the same time – and loved every single minute of it.Even though it was extremely exhausting, going all day. 50 minutes of panel discussion, 20 minutebreaks to browse and buy books and have them signed. Well, guess what! I hadn’t wanted to … but I couldn’t help buying more books than intended because A) I wanted to try the one or other author I hadn’t heard of before and B) absolutely wanted to have them signed by them.

Just to name a few authors I met, talked to and bought books from: T.E. Kinsey and his lovely Lady Hardcastle mysteries, Mick Finlay and his Arrowood Victorian mysteries, Ann Cleeves (Vera, Shetford, etc), Mark Ellis, Andrew Child (Reacher), Tim Glister (60s spy novel), Janice Hallett, D.V. Bishop, Mike Ripley (Campion series), Peter Hanington,Martin Edwards, John Lawton, Linda Stratmann, Leigh Russell and many more. Bumping into each other again and again, striking up interesting conversations. Plus a very nice Gala Dinner on Saturday evening with great food and a little awards show … the perfect ending to a perfect little vacation.

Two and a half days to be among crime and mystery lovers – Sunday I had to leave early and couldn’t take part in the last few panels – and books, books, books. If I hadn’t been limited by my luggage capacities (and stupid customs regulations since Britain is not EU anymore) I would not only have stocked up on even more books (there were many more on my booklist I could have gotten at Waterstones, not to mention the book stand in the ballroom of the convention hotel with offers from the attending authors) but also much more on my favourite British groceries. Like my tea biscuits, shortbread, Ovaltine cocoa, cheese crackers, cake mixes, scones, Horlicks malt drink and … darn, I completely forgot to look for SPAM. (But I guess I wouldn’t have been allowed to import it anyway, officially at least …)

Oh well, 36 books is not too bad either – yep, half of my suitcase was filled with books. And yep, I received a “heavy” sticker for being 5 kilos above the limit and had to pay extra. 

Even though the return trip was an ordeal – leaving the hotel at 6 am, arriving at my apartment at 7:30 pm due to delays and a long waiting period in Amsterdam for my connecting flight, not to mention the crappiest burger I ever had at Amsterdam airport– I certainly want to go back to attend CrimeFest again in the years to come! Cheerio!