Tuesday, January 31, 2006

the name is actually rather misleading...

as the so-called "book-of-the-month-club" I am a member of should more accurately be called bitch-and-binge club, because that's what we do best.

Since its foundation in 1997 the book club has religiously convened once a month (I have so far only missed a single session when it coincided with my grandfather's funeral) and I have been the official chronicler and "mamarazza" of our gatherings. I'm also the self-appointed webmistress of a poky little website. I challenge you to find it, good luck googling!

We take turns hosting the event and our culinary skills have considerably devoloped since the inaugural meeting when only humble apple strudel was served. These days, a three-course meal followed by abundant quantities of crisps and chocolate is obligatory.

We've also been on wonderfully girly away-weekends together and made the odd group-excursion to the cinema to see adaptations of books we've read and erm..."discussed".

As I said, the name's rather misleading as I'm usually the only one who has read the whole book of the month, thanks to my adrenaline-free office environment and we only discuss the book for 5 minutes max before we get down to more serious topics ranging from cellulite to sex toys. Girls, they have one-track minds, let me tell you. Very occasionally (as in: every meeting) men in general and our partners in particular also crop up in conversation.

When the book club was founded we all lived in Vienna, most of us were still at university and none of its seven female members was married or had (even thought about ever having) a child. Now, 3 are married, there are 5 children and a sixth will soon be born. The roles of several significant others have been filled with new candidates in the course of those almost 9 years and we've discovered things about each other that we would never have suspected. I've in fact been one of the few "stationary" members (never mind unmarried and childless) as one of us has since moved to the U.S., one to the less exotic and faraway town of Villach, one has just returned from 2 years in Berlin and another one temporarily lives in London.

Much to the dismay of the childless faction there were times when our little club was in danger of becoming a "mum-of-the-month-club" but digressions to the realm of breastfeeding and teething aside we're just as childish and bitchy in our thirties as we were in our twenties. Another downside of motherhood is that the avility of babysitters pretty much dominates our search for a date and that the (working) mums never have time to read the books anyway. Needless to say, we hardly ever get to see our exiled members and we're overjoyed if we can at least get the Vienna base together. At Christmas and/or Easter, when our American outpost is back the glorious 7 are usually complete again.

We take turns suggesting the book (usually a novel) which has to be in English not only did we all graduate in English literature but we almost exclusively read books written in English. Whoever wants to suggest a book does.
Members are:
Amica: You already know that she's one of my best friends . She teaches English and German (at a high school and at university) but is currently on maternity leave. With 3 kids she boosts statistics not only within the book-club but for our whole over-aged country. I also get on really well with her husband who shares TD's and my dirty sense of humour.

B1: Married to an American who tried living in Austria but then got homesick and put his Harvard-connections to better use in Washington. They have a child and are (rather desperately) trying for a second one. B1 teaches German at a high school. Altough she's not American herself, she actually really looks the part. Really.

B2: Lives in Villach and works at Klagenfurt airport. Some years ago, B2 got dumped rather brutally by her boyfriend of - like, centuries - who is now trying to get her back, undeterred by the minor detail that she lives together with someone else. B2 and I are the only ones who have visited B1 in her idyllic suburbian home beyond the Big Pond.
S1: Currently pregnant mother of a 2-year old, another teacher (English and French) on maternity leave. The same year I studied in Dublin on an Erasmus scholarship with Amica, she studied in Aberdeen with the two Bs. She also used to be in a "restaurant club" and is obsessed with food (in a good way).

S2: As a member of the English dept. of our common Alma Mater, the University of Vienna, she's our willing supplier of behind-the-scenes academic scandal. Speaking of which, it took her 3 years to tell us what we had been suspecting all along, that she left her childhood-sweetheart for her academic supervisor who's 40 years her senior. She's currently doing research for her postdoctoral lecture qualification in London, her field being postcolonial literature ("poco", for the initiated).

K: Our only non-Austrian member. She's German and loves all things Chinese, having repeatedly travelled to remote parts of China. Inexplicably, she's not interested in retail therapy at all and in general is our "serious" one. After two not-so-happy years in Berlin where her boyfriend lives (he just found a job in Vienna) she recently returned to Vienna. She's working in journalism/tourism at the moment.

At the beginning, I only knew Amica really well and the others only from sight as you know fellow students in an overcrowded department. Over the years, all of them have become really good friends. It was in fact B2 with whom I circled the Wörthersee on Sunday.

We all find it hilarious and can hardly stifle a giggle when people are terribly impressed when we mention that we're in a book club, thinking we're dead serious bookworms when if fact we're more like Carrie and friends, minus the glamourous shoes. And the rich boyfriends.

Lunch-break purchases: None. I can do it.

Yesterday, on my way back to the office, an American tourist approached me, map in hand, saying "I wanno go where the shops are". She definitely stopped the right person, didn't she? Do I have "shopaholic" tatooed on my forehead, I wonder?

Monday, January 30, 2006

holiday on ice

Woerthersee (onemorehandbag) I had a wonderful weekend. On Saturday, I went skiing to Gerlitzen with my Mum. Allthough all the car-parks were full we had several of the slopes pretty much to ourselves. Most of the Hungarian holidaymakers and Slovenian day-trippers seemed to be more in après ski mode, judging from the full ski huts.

The reason why almost no locals where around was because the greater part of the Wörthersee was frozen.
Frozen lake, what's the big deal, you might think. Well, this lake only -partially- freezes every five to ten years and the last time the whole lake was officially declared safe for skating was in 1981. Winters are usually very cold in Carinthia but for a lake which is up to 85 metres (!) deep you can imagine that temperatures need to stay very cold for a long period of time in order for the lake to build a sufficiently thick layer of ice. When it does and the local "Eislaufverein" (skating association) declares it safe, the whole town's on the ice and you can occasionally see the Eislaufverein doing patrol rounds in funny red retro VW beetles. They already had the same fleet of cars back in that memorable ice-dominated winter of 1981 when the lake was covered in beautiful ice for weeks and people skated in costumes on Shrove Tuesday when Austrians (well, children mostly) put on fancy dress. My Mum opted for the no-hassle costume for me and so I dressed as a "ghost", the central feature of the costume being an old white bedspread.

Here, a short digression is called for. It is safe to say that I am probably the least patriotic creature on the face of the earth and definitely the only (female) Carinthian who has never owned/worn a dirndl dress in her life. That might possibly have something to do with the fact that you mainly need a dirndl if you're a member of a choir (as most Carinthians tend to be) and my complete and utter lack of musical talent guaranteed a choir-free youth for me. Nevertheless, I am absolutely positive that the Wörthersee is the most beautiful body of water. Don't let anybody tell you any different. In spite of the fact that I myself must have peed into the lake at least 20 times when I was younger (as in considerably younger, okay?) the lake miraculously has drinking water quality. Pity us if you want, but for us land-locked alpine folks it's the closest we can get to Southern dolce vita and I dare you to find any resident of Klagenfurt who does not passionately love the lake and have fond memories of childhood summers at Strandbad, eating artificial-tasting ice-cream and building sand (yes, sand) castles.

Yesterday, the number of cars in the vicinity of Strandbad probably exceeded that of a scorching summer day. I wisely chose to leave mine at the Minimundus car park and walk to the ice-covered lake through the idyllic Europapark. With a friend I skated the whole "safe" area in glorious sunshine. There hardly ever are moments when I want to exchange the urban delights of Vienna for the provincial pleasures of Klagenfurt, but yesterday I wished I had taken some extra days off.
Unlike Novala obviously was, my friend and I were not in the mood for self-mutilation.

Otherwise, I'm officially ancient (34) since yesterday although judging from the amount of Hello Kitty! stuff I got from my colleagues today you might think it was my 14th birthday.

Lunch-break purchases: I thought I was safe as I had a lunch-date but on my way back to the office I dropped into the housewife's nirvana that is TCHIBO and bought incredibly comfortable microfleece so-called "wellness pants" (ideal for slouching around at home) I had admired on my Mum plus some (fuchsia-coloured!) underwear which was on sale.

Friday, January 27, 2006

this is your driver speaking

On Wednesday night I was sitting in the U4, a subway line I hardly ever use - not that I'm missing out on much - when there suddenly was an announcement by the driver who said the following (only it was in German, obviously) in the politest, most long-winded possible way:

Passengers in the first and last carriage will no doubt have noticed the rather cramped conditions. Now of course I don't know whether you are actually enjoying the close proximity of strangers but just in case you aren't, may I take the liberty to suggest that you occasionally consider boarding other carriages as well? Should this, however, have been a conscious effort on your part to counteract the cold temperatures outside then please feel free to ignore my suggestion and continue to use the first or last carriage only. Thank you for your kind attention, enjoy your onward journey and have a pleasant evening.

It was the very same guy who also reminds passengers not to leave behind their umbrellas on rainy days and who occasionally comes up with statistical trivia and all kinds of helpful/ironic suggestions like the one above. He's actually semi-famous and I remember reading an article about him in the paper years ago. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find it online. On the rare occasions that I do use the U4, he almost always entertains passengers with some gratuitous observation or other.
It might not be unusual in your town to have subway-drivers address you over the intercom with polite chit-chat but in Vienna all you ever hear from them is a mumbled Einsteigen bitte, Zug fährt ab (Please board, train is about to leave) which usually comes across as a half-hearted Eiiinsteigen, Zuugfdab in varying degrees of unintelligibility.

Speaking of public transport. As I was searching for the "open"-button next to the central door of the dirt-splashed bus this morning, I noticed that someone (the pervy driver himself?) had written a message in the dirt. Pretty women please get on at the front door. Hmmmm. Although I do think I could easily have won the on-board beauty pageant (think: old biddies and spotted teenagers, wobbly midriffs in plain view in spite of the cold) of the day I chose to disregard the notice.

Right after work tonight I'll hit the highway and head southwards for a weekend of winter sports (skiing, ice-skating) and letting-the-parents-spoil-me-rotten. Back on Monday

Lunch-break purchases: Have just returned from a visit to the Golden Arches with FCN. Well, they said in the paper that subzero temperatures call for additional calories to prevent ehm...your body temperature from sinking to an alarming level, I think it was. En passant she bought a pashmina and I a limited edition set from Clinique containing a mascara, a travel-size eye-make-up remover and a "lash building primer". What? I already bought a mascara last week? Well, that one was a) a different make and b) brown, not black. See?!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

one more bag

Uffffff, I'm knackered! I'm just not used to so much action on a Thursday morning at all. Together with my boss and 2 colleagues I spent about 4 hours at a school this morning, giving a Power Point presentation about Japan (boss) as well as calligraphy and origami workshops, showing them a short film about Japan and demonstrating how to put on a kimono. I did the origami part and can only say that trying to get the attention of 2 classes (with 27 children each) of 13-year-olds is no piece of cake. Teachers definitely deserve that long summer vacation of theirs.
When I came home from my Slo(w) course last night, a parcel from my friend Frida was waiting for me. Frida's not really called Frida, but she's an artist who once did a video where she styled herself as Frida Kahlo, moustache and all, so I thought the nickname was apt. Anyway, Frida whom I've know for as long as I've known the Mermaid and the Pampered Princess moved to Paris earlier this month with her husband and two little boys in tow. She received a grant (in the form of a rent-free studio) from the town of Klagenfurt for half a year so she will let Paris inspire her. I know, it's a tough job, but someone's got to do it! She's the friend who gave me the super-cool messenger bag for Christmas and whom TD and I will be visiting in March with our cheap tickets purchased at SPAR.

Good friend that she is, she sent me a birthday present from Paris, knowing just what I like. (Apart from the bag I also got a small cosmetics bag and a Japanese-style comb with a lady in kimono on it). Being greedy and impatient, I had to rip open the wrapping paper on the spot although my birthday's not until Sunday. Well, I also already got/bought a coat, a cashmere sweater and a bag as pre-birthday treats and "prematurely" opened a parcel from Istanbul (contents: a hat, a scarf and 3 pairs of socks with funky patterns) earlier this week. I loooove spreading out birthday gifts for as long before and after the actual day as is possible. A birthday-festival, more like.

No recent purchases to confess but just FYI: novala proudly informed me that she bought one of those sexy little washing powder boxes yesterday ;-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Corvus frugilegus

crows(onemorehandbag) Most pleople I know seem to hate rooks, maybe because their descent on Viennese parks signals winter's imminent return. Since I actually love winter, I always look forward to seeing them back from their Russian or Polish summer retreats, elegantly sashaying around my beloved Volksgarten as if they owned the place. Although I'm not at all interested in birds and poultry per se, I find rooks incredibly cool with their jet black plumage and majestic strut. They are as unimpressed by human beings who walk past them as they are by dogs. Last week I found out that they are obviously carnivores when I walked past a group (flock?) of them luxuriously picking apart frozen convenience food, i.e. frozen stiff pigeon. Yum, yum.

With the Siberian temperatures we're having at the moment (around -15° when I leave home in the morning) plus the notoriously merciless Viennese wind my brisk early-morning walk feels like some kind of extreme winter sport. I still love it, though and keep telling myself that it boosts my immune system. No colds so far this winter, knock, knock.

Lunch-break purchases: Perfume. I'd run out of mine and tracked down a bottle of the rather hard-to-get (at least in Austria) scent, Automne (part of the Les Saisons par Van Cleef&Arpels series) which I discovered a year ago and find really "is me". Other than that, some more (cheap) cosmetic staples.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Daisy Duck

Yesterday's post was written before my lunch-break. Looking at the picture above, can you guess what yours truly purchased? Yep. Some more birthday money + (slightly) discounted Mandarina Duck MD 20 bag = one happy retailtherapista. When I entered the shop with the Pampered Princess, the shop assistant shrieked "I knew you'd ask for the turquoise one when I saw you in your coat." It doesn't match the down coat exactly, but the two shades of turquoise don't clash either. I'd been salivating in front of the shop window for a week or so and as I was queuing for popcorn in the cinema last Thursday there actually was a girl with a bag of the same range standing right next to me. I furtively snuggled up to her to see whether the two colours go together. At least I hope it was furtively and the poor thing doesn't think a lesbian frotteur , or rather frotteuse, was making a pass at her...

Monday, January 23, 2006

M. for "moody" is my middle name

Sometimes I really, really pity TD for having to put up with my moods. Or rather, I'm amazed he does put up with them.

Vienna's tackiest shopping mall ,which is a mere 5 minutes walk from where we live, got an even bigger annex complete with multiplex cinema (boasting such attractions as a "5(!)D cinema") last summer. Ever since it opened, TD had been pestering me to go and check out the allegedly ultra-comfortable seats, knowing that I refuse to watch dubbed films out of principle if I can avoid it, i.e. understand the original language/there's a subtitled alternative. Like most cinemas in Vienna, "Lugner Kino City"(hereinafter called LKC) down the road only shows dubbed films so I told him I'd wait until a German or Austrian film came out which I'd be happy to see there. Films in their original version are are usually shown in small arty-farty cinemas with TV-size screens, often without Dolby Surround and other effects which are absolutely indispensable for the male cinemagoer.

As no German language films had been on offer since the opening, TD put his foot down last week and announced that he'd go and see a film at LKC on Saturday, regardless of whether I'd condescend to accompany him or not. He said he either wanted to see
Prime or Memoirs of a Geisha. After some eye-rolling for dramatic effect I announced with the least enthusiastic inflection I could muster that I might consider seeing Memoirs of a Geisha in German as I expected it to be crap anyway. Literary snob that I am I'd also refused to read the novel it is based on, convinced it would be trivial and clichéd. Prime, however, I wanted to see in English as I'd seen the trailer and it promised to be quite funny.

That was before I discovered that my favourite retro-cinema just a little bit further down the road from LKC was showing an interesting-sounding Czech film (original with subtitles...) called Nuda v Brne (for the English market: Bored in Brno, for the German Sex in Brno. Yep, we like to call a spade a spade). Not only did I really want to see that film, I also love the cinema in question. It's basically a one-woman show. One and the same old lady sells you the tickets/snacks, inspects your tickets at the entrance to the only theatre, turns the lights on and off, operates the projector and lets you out at the street-side exit afterwards. There's usually only a handful of visitors and I consider it my moral obligation to go there every now and then, thereby preventing the cinema from having to close down. Needless to say, the chairs are of the uncomfortable KGB interrogation chamber variety and the sound is all but dolby surround.

When I asked TD if he fancied watching 2 films in one night (I knew we'd return too late from my relatives for the only 6 p.m. show of Nuda v Brne on Sunday), first the Czech one, then the Geisha, he wasn't into the idea. With a face like the sacrificial lamb I felt I was I eventually agreed to seeing Memoirs. As we were waiting to be admitted to the theatre and I was done complaining about the tickets being a rip-off, TD sweetly asked if it was humanly possible for the corners of my mouth to be turned downwards any further. Good point. You see, when I sulk, I sulk.

The masses of housewifey-looking women past their prime who spilled out from the previous show didn't bode well and I slumped down on the seat wearily. Hold on. What a bloody comfortable seat it was, too! Luxuriously upholstered, generously padded aaaaand you could recline the backrest by merely leaning backwards. Even in your reclined position, people could walk past you unhindered. Well, even if the film was going to be super-kitschy Hollywood fare I was at least sitting comfortably, I thought...

The film wasn't half as bad, either. I understand that for Japanese viewers it must be mockery to see Chinese, American-Asian, Taiwanese and what have you actresses play in artifical backdrops (apparently, "Japan" had been re-created on a vast Californian ranch only to be bulldozed after the filming) but for the average Central European, they did a good job of it. I must say that the 2 1/2 hours were rather entertaining and I didn't want my money back. Predictably enough, I also cried at the appropriate parts.

Seeing me furtively drying my eyes afterwards, TD remarked, "Naah, you didn't like it at all, did you?"

Weekend-purchases: At a bookstore that sells English books for half the normal retail price I bought Author, Author by David Lodge and
the Impressionist by Hari Kunzru.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

can you please...

powderbox(onemorehandbag) confirm that this purchase was absolutely vital? I stumbled over this funky washing powder box (What? You don't own one yet? Poor, deprived creature you!) last night at Butlers. TD agreed that it would be an incredibly stylish addition to our minuscule bathroom and a chic container for our DM own-brand washing powder. Oh, and it's sitting on top of the evil washing machine that kills mobile phones. It's a long story.

In front of the casino on Kärntner Straße, we bumped into Amica, hurrying towards the subway with her hungry twins in their super-cool pram. (it looks like this, only with two carry-cots). In the five or so minutes we were talking to her, 4 women stopped to look into the pram. First a Japanese lady who tried to convey her enthusiasm with gestures only and then theatrically waved good-bye. Next came a couple of old ladies, then a peroxide blonde in her fifties who turned on her heels in the entrance of the casino and basically shouted "Twins? So cute! I have a one-month-old grandchild myself, you know." It was like the old "customers attract more customers" rule. Amica told us that it was like that wherever she went with the twins. The cool pram apparently attracts Italians in particular (why does this not surprise me?) and one young Italian couple recently got a bit carried away. The man asked if he could test-drive it and enthusiastically ran around in concentric circles with this Ferrari among prams while his wife/girlfriend took photos with her mobile phone...

Friday, January 20, 2006

ranting and raving

Ranting first.
So my computer was kidnapped for some 6 hours yesterday for alleged "upgrading". A-ha. Not that I had any complaints about working with good old Windows 98, but as I subscribe to the concept of free upgrades I more or less willingly parted with it. Well, it looks like the guy in charge at our telecom department has also recently fallen victim to some dubious kind of occupational therapy to stop him staring at the wall behind his desk for (office) hours on end or idly poke around in his nose. Off he goes, fiddling with hapless computers.

The "upgrading" he performed turned out to actually have been a downgrading. He did install Windows 2000 which I assume is a step up from 98, but apart from that I got my computer (who by the way is now ten times noisier than before, think small aircraft preparing for take-off) back with a version of Internet Explorer so ancient I could only read my Gmail in basic Html and without MS Works in which I write about 95% of my texts for work, not mentioning other things that he'd failed to save/re-install. After a little hissy fit in view of the futility of the whole operation I (illegally, as we're not allowed to download anything from the Internet. Hah! Subversive element, me!) downloaded IE 6, restored my desktop to its earlier appearance, saved my e-mail signatures again in my Outlook Express and hunted down a CD with Works. Time to remind myself of rule # 1 in this zoo, I guess: NEVER. EVER. ASK. YOURSELF. WHY!

Oh, and I didn't actually knit any items of clothing or armour in those painfully long internet-less hours. I prepared for - I'm not joking - an origami workshop yours truly has to give to school kids next Thursday by folding some hearts, clover and pigs. Crane (the animal, not the machinery), frog, box and kimono to be revised next week. That pretty much sums up my origami repertoire.

Now for the raving: I saw Match Point last night. It was abso-f***ing-lutely brilliant! Great actors (Jonathan Reys-Meyers: swoon!), totally gripping plot (I thought I'd internally combust from suspense towards the denouement) and great locations (London: aaaaah) Even if, unlike me, you're one of those people who say they can't abide Woody Allen's films, you should definitely go and see it. Same as in his last few films, Mr. Allen himself doesn't make an appearance, if that's any incentive. The protagonist's self-inflicted misery and the Big Questions the film tackled reminded me of (the books, not the films!) Intimacy (for the cheating bastard bit) and the Great Gatsby (for the rise in social status bit). It's a very sensuous and passionate film and you (i.e. I did) identify with the protagonist's dilemmas up to a certain extent but it's also shocking and very depressing. Well, maybe I shouldn't call it depressing or you won't go and see it after all. It's value for money, I assure you.

Purchases: I don't have any major confessions to make. Yesterday I raided the Body Shop again (final days of sale) in my lunch-break and later hit Marionnaud en route to the cinema to buy a discounted Biotherm "Define Eyes" eye pencil in a rather bright um...turquoise. Other people obviously don't think it's a good idea to buy eye-liner to match their new turquoise down coats or else that colour wouldn't have been the only reduced one. Today I was good and just bought a birthday present for one of my great-aunts. Oh, and the February issue of my favourite glossy, UK Marie Claire.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

cold turkey

I've been informed that my computer at Coma HQ, my preferred "blog-station" will be taken away from me for some long-overdue (I'm currently working with Windows 98; I'd really like to have a word with the person who spread the rumour of the Japanese being into state-of-the-art technology!) upgrading tomorrow morning. I don't know when exactly I'll get it back so don't post/comment anything interesting tomorrow morning, will you!

Question to self: How will I overcome those physically painful internet-withdrawal syptoms? Will I torture my colleague, tear my hair out, knit a jumper chainmail helmet? Stay tuned.

knight in woollen armour...

source:hollyspringhomespun.comLast night at the tram stop I noticed a woman with her (approximately nine-year-old) daughter. The girl was proudly wearing a plastic doll in a baby sling, blissfully unaware of all the attention she attracted from people who - like me - took a double take, having taken the doll for a genuine infant at first. The girl's Mum carried on as if it was nothing out of the ordinary, which for her it probably wasn't. I concluded that this woman must either be blessed with above-average self-confidence or be so resigned to her daughter's crazy ideas that nothing could possibly embarrass her any more.

That somewhat unusual sight triggered a flashback to a memorable excursion to Greenwich with public transport in the summer of 1991 when I had a summer job looking after a stubborn 5-year-old in London. It was only for two weeks to bridge the gap between the family's au pairs (one had just returned to France, the other hadn't arrived yet) and I didn't get any pay. For me, free food and accommodation in (almost) central London was incentive enough. Rory, my little charge, looked positively angelic with his blond hair, blue eyes and snub nose. Looks can be so deceiving as he was a stubborn little bugger if ever there was one. One day, Rory's mother instructed me to take her son and his best friend to Greenwich as the boys had been looking forward to seeing the Cutty Sark all summer. Little did I know that the little angel would insist on wearing the "chainmail helmet" his granny had recently knitted for him.

Either the dear granny did not know that a knight's armour was supposed to be a silvery grey or at least some other dark and at least slightly menacing-looking colour, or white wool had simply been on sale so she decided to bulk-buy it. In any case, a white woollen helmet and visor don't look remotely intimidating and knightly, now do they? This minor detail obviously was an utterly negligible one in little Rory's eyes and so he proudly squeezed his head into the knitted monstrosity regardless of the fact that it was an unusually (for Britain at least) hot summer day.

Off we went on the painstakingly long journey from Fulham to Greenwich, with Rory in his white knitwear-helmet, plastic sword in hand. Try to visualise a white, tight-fitting headdress made of angora wool. What does it look like? Right, a bandage! After the fifth or so adult had scrutinised the cute little boy for dried blood or other tell-tale signs of a recent disfiguring head-injury and asked "What happened to you, dear?" I stopped counting. Every time I looked the concerned equirer straight into the eye and explained "It's a helmet, you see" daring them to ask any further questions. Rory just brandished his sword to undermine this unlikely claim and I went back to stare out of the window, silently repeating my mantra: Nobdody knows you here and we're almost there anyway. After having admired the Cutty Sark and all other attractions Greenwich has to offer, Rory unceremoniously handed me his sweaty bandage/helmet and I quickly stuffed it into my bag before he could change his mind. Thus, I was mercifully spared the embarrassment on the return journey.

So far, I've been quite successful in drowing out the tick of the old biological clock (my Mum takes care of occasionally reminding me that I'm not getting any younger which indeed I am not), trying to convince myself that I'm obviously not ready for motherhood yet if my embarrassment-threshold is so pitifully low, never mind minor logistical details such as the potential father at hand being a student who is not allowed to legally work in this country because of his visa status.

Lunch-break-purchases: None, unless a caffee latte and a cinnamon raisin roll count. Speaking of children, I had a lunch-date with Amica who is my age and a married mother of three (two of them twins) already. It's a conspiracy, I'm telling you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

some like it dark

chocoholic(onemorehandbag) Contrary to what it may look like, this is not the window-display of a chocolate store, it is the humble (dark) chocolate-collection TD and I currently have at home. And, no, I did not buy them just so I would have something to write about for the blog. We just really like dark chocolate and people know we like it so dinner guests often bring some instead of/in addition to wine or flowers as a gift for their hosts. Many of this year's Christmas presents also included some novelty chocolate.

I am - unfortunately - a very "categorical" person who jumps to hasty conclusions all to often and has this kind of mental check-list when sniffing people out for their friend-for-life-potential. Needless to say, the highest score can be achieved if candidates' answers mirror my own preferences in such fundamental issues like:
  • dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate [white chocolate is only butter and therefore not even an option]
  • cats vs. dogs
  • town vs. country [as in: where would you like to permanently live]
  • reader vs. non-reader
  • shopaholic vs. shop-abstainer
  • Sex and the City lover vs. "How can you watch this?"

    etc., etc.

You get the picture. In case you were in any doubt, I go for the first option in all of the above. Now I do have friends who are allergic to cats and therefore loathe them, are not adverse to a bar of butter white chocolate and who don't find Sex and the City remotely entertaining but you just can't disagree with me on all counts and expect me to still love you. That's just not on! If you must clog your arteries with white chocolate you should at least have some connoisseur attitude about it and be able to name a minimum of 3 brands of your preference.

TD's definitely not the reading kind but apart from that he did really well on that list of mine. Above all, he could argue about the individual merits of his favourite brands of dark chocolate for hours, as could I. Chocolate-bores that we are, we get really excited when we discover that new acquaintances are dark-chocolate-aficionados as well. It's like belonging to some secret masonic lodge obsessed with cocoa content and the quest for foreign brands in elegant pitch-dark wrappers and embossed writing. Conversations abound with reverently whispered code-words: Valrhona! Lindt's 70%! Michel Cluizel! Our current favourites are dark chocolates by "J.D. Gross" which allegedly is a sub-brand created by the German company Rausch for the LIDL supermarket chain according to this article (in German). I don't care who's behind the name and personally find they taste much better than the Rausch products proper but those J.D. Gross bars truly are orgasmic. The fact that at a little over 1 € per bar they are very reasonably prized as well isn't so much a priority as I've paid obscene amounts for premium chocolate in the past without batting an eyelid.

Visitors who see our permanently well-stocked chocolate treasure trove always express their disbelief that we a) don't raid it all in one go and b) don't look like the Michelin Man yet what with all those calorific temptations around. While we're both generously padded - thank you very much - and definitely are not given to chastening ourselves we do actually enjoy it in (relative) moderation. Don't worry, though, we'll see to it that it won't go off.

Lunch-break-purchases: I indulged in shopping-by-proxy today when FCN bought a gorgeous down-coat. On the way back to the office I only bought some birthday cards and a funky letter opener (to be added to my present-depot). Tomorrow I have a lunch-date at Starbucks so brace yourselves for another purchase-less day. Just please don't give up hope yet. I promise to be good and revert to my money-squandering ways. Soon.

Monday, January 16, 2006

ice, ice, baby

neusiedlersee(onemorehandbag)Thankfully, the weekend, which was a very social one, made me snap out of the murderous mood I was in on Friday. It began with a leasurely brunch with a friend at High Tea, my favourite location for brunches, on Saturday morning. Well, actually it had begun already with a birthday dinner at the Pampered Princess' sister's on Friday night when we were served football-pitch-sized pieces of lasagne and cake. On Saturday night, my book club (more about that another time) convened but I couldn't stay for dessert as I had to rush home, get changed into my party gear and pick up TD for Novala's belated New Year's Party. Although most of the guests had already left when we got there it was very nice and we were quite impressed by the futuristic, Manhattan-esque part of town we'd never been to before. Apparently, shortly after we'd left with the "unwanted" presents (a CD and a fluffy tapestry monstrosity) we'd got in exchange for ours a veritable blood-bath took place.

On Sunday, I went ice-scating on Lake Neusieldl with the Mermaid, the Pampered Princess and the latter's hubby and sister. Judging from the crowds, half of Vienna seemed to have had the same idea. It was my first time on skates this season and when we got there, the uneven ice and fierce wind almost made the Mermaid and me return to Vienna right away. After a while the wind eased up, we'd found our "ice legs" and we also discovered totally smooth ice further away from the shore. In fact we really got into it and thought we might need our passports any minute as the natural border to Hungary lies somewhere in the middle of the lake. Mole West, Neusiedl's trendy lake-side watering hole had temporarily converted its terrace into a filling station for frozen skaters, defrosting them with mulled wine and punch where in summer (people who think they belong to) the beautiful people sip their mojitos. Conveniently, there was no need to take off your skates for the pit stop unless you wanted to show off your expensive après skate gear. Being the only one of us without ridiculous hat or hood and sporting Chanel shades, a Prada coat and Gucci bag, the Pampered Princess was our admission ticket to the world of the smart after-skating-clubbers. I couldn't help noticing that unattractively blotched or "freezer-burnt" cheeks seemed to affect everyone. Cold, a great democratic force of nature.

Shortly after sunset, the Mermaid drove me home and stayed for dinner. I had planned to conjure up a risotto but then was too starved for any domestic goddess stunts so toasted sandwiches had to do.

Today, I bizarrely have a completely stiff neck and sore shoulders. I must have skated with hunched shoulders because of the wind. I'd actually expected my bum to hurt as I'd fallen smack down on it not while skating but when I wanted to take a group photo of my friends taking off their skates afterwards. Well, it looks like a generously padded derrière does have its advantages after all.

Purchases: Boring for the blog, good for my budget - no major acquisitions and none likely this lunch-break. Sorry!

Friday, January 13, 2006


I had planned to write about a different topic altogether today, but then my boss caught me unawares and catapulted me into rant-overdrive.

Mid-morning he materialised in my room just as I was munching an apple while simultaneously devouring the latest posts of my favourite fellow bloggers* and asked me if I could spare a minute. Erm, yes, I think I can just about manage. In the privacy of our meeting room he said that what with our Slovenian branch having just opened (I used to be in charge of Slovenian affairs within my department) he gathered I might feel just a tiny bit...unchallenged (whatever gave him that idea?) right now and he had therefore decided to redistribute duties. Riiiiight. I feared the worst. After a little talk with a colleague of mine he'd agreed with her to divert some of her jobs to me. Needless to say when he asked her which ones she'd most willingly part with she mentioned the ones she liked least. As you would. Thus I'm being put in charge of Coma HQ's website (I used to just translate the content for the English version and update the bit on the projects I'm in charge of), mailing list and earned two other projects he'd obviously just created to give me something to do. Although this is a very laudable approach, investing so much of his oh-so-precious time in thinking up occupational therapy for yours trulythey're very annoying and dead boring tasks, all of them.

I imediately wrote a bitchy mail to said colleague, thanking her for the kind donation. She wasn't happy to get less to do herself, being just as bored as I am and - what's worse - with the boss sitting right behind her so she can't just surf the web all day like I do, but wasn't selfless enough to part with the less tedious of her tasks. Of course, our boss asked me whether I was happy with his suggestions but what could I say, really? Tell him that yes, I was bored to tears most of the time but could he perhaps dream up some remotely more interesting projects while he was at it? Not really.

* Another regular commenter over @ the Glory of Carniola has obviously been infected by the blogging-bug. If you are better at Slovenian than I am and want to know more about life in Japan (like I do) you might want to pay her a visit.

My frustration called for another chocolate-fuelled lunch-break-excursion with FCN:

Lunch-break-purchases: A cashmere sweater. I'm almost 34 years old and have managed to survive without a cashmere sweater until now, believe me or not (blends do not count, I do own jumpers with a small percentage of cashmere). I already drooled over those beauties yesterday but decided not to get one even though at € 49,50 they were very cheap for 100% cashmere. Then I remembered that my Granny wanted to know what I would like for my upcoming birthday. Hah! Another guilt-free splurge and a happy Granny in one go. While we were at Steffl I bought a new mascara (Estée Lauder, Illusionist Maximum Curling Mascara) which will hopefully manage to turn my straight, porcine lashes into glamorous curled ones. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Botox to go

This morning's highlight was the purchase of 2 return tickets to Paris (where we're going to visit friends who recently moved there). It wasn't just any old online booking, but I used vouchers for Flyniki/Air Berlin flights I had bought from the SPAR supermarket. Well, it was actually TD who got them from a branch near where we live as they were already sold out at the one I pass on my way to the office when I got there at 8:30. When TD got home with the precious vouchers (which had cost all of € 116) he took a photo of the codes on the scratch-cards and mailed them to me.

I suppose buying (vouchers for) flights from your local supermarket is just the logical progression from the computers and other electronic stuff they have been selling for ages. Last year, the Mermaid bought a laptop from Zielpunkt, FCN and some other holidays booked their holidays through Hofer/Aldi. I own lots of (superfluous) gadgets I have either purchased at Hofer or Eduscho/Tchibo. Do supermarkets which exclusively sell food and toiletries still exist at all, I wonder? Not that I mind the extra shoportunities forcing themselves on me when all I wanted was some milk.

Zielpunkt recently even offered a Botox treatment. My vivid imagination went into overdrive and I imagined mullet-haired cashiers donning scrubs and ordering you to stretch out on the conveyor belt at their check out so they can casually shove a syringe into your forehead in between scanning in barcodes.

It was actually just a boring voucher, too. Pity.

Lunch-break purchases: None whatsoever. Yes, read my lips: none. This time, FCN and I really managed to prevent each other from wasting any money. I'm getting seriously worried...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Html tips from the kitchen goddess

Thanks to the lovely Anne I have now added a "categories" menu to my sidebar. Ta-dah!
I had another public-transport-moment in the tram last night: When a man of considerable girth clumsily parked himself between a young woman and myself, almost shoving me off the seat in the process, he had the cheek to demand that the other lady move over a bit. This prompted her to reply (very loudly): "I really don't think so. Just because your buttocks can't fit into one seat and you think you need to sit with your legs wide apart like that doesn't mean you deserve two seats."

Purchases: None so far today...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Behind the scenes

Returning readers (if they do exist) might have gathered that most of my purchases are made in my (75 min) lunch-break. As the place where I am ungainfully employed happens to be located right in the city centre, I don't want to waste the precious time I'm let out of my cage for on actually going to a restaurant for lunch (unless I have a date with someone who hasn't joined shopaholics anonymous yet and is reluctant to dash in and out of stores with me...) but use it for retail therapy instead. Not only is this very rewarding pastime, but it's so good for you in so many ways: You get a bit of fresh air, exercise (when you look at the watch and realise you'll have to run in order to make it back to the office on time) plus you can pride yourself of single-handedly keeping the national economy afloat. I'm actually waiting for the Chamber of Commerce to present me with a medal for my efforts any time now.

On a typical lunch-break-spree, I either prowl the shops on my own, or with FCN. It goes like this. In the middle of a particularly boring morning in the office (trust me, they all are) I call her (or vice versa).

Me: Morning, darling. And? As comatose as usual?
FCN: Well, almost, I'm reading [my 250th book this year]. Any plans for your lunch-break?
Me: Naaah. You?
FCN: Nope. Well, I just wanted to pop into Esprit [H&M/ Stefanel/ Zara] to check whether they have a jumper to go with the trousers I ordered from La Redoute.
Me: You ordered another pair of trousers? Geez, you're getting worse than me! Anyway, Esprit suits me fine. I just need to find some fishnet tights to match the skirt I got yesterday. Can you please make sure I won't buy anything other than that today?

At 12:30 on the dot, FCN and Retailtherapist meet at the time clock in the minuscule entrance hall of Coma HQ. After a brief rant about the latest brainwaves of our pint-sized superiors and extraterrestrial room-mates we get down to business. By 13:45 at the latest (we don't have flexitime so need to arrive on time or else have to face red print on the time card and a harangue by the head of the accounting department. If you punch in a mere minute too late you need to see that person for a signature on your card and let him scold you like a school-girl. Yep, the Japanese they love their hierarchies...) FCN and Retailtherapist return to Coma HQ laden down with bags. We always instruct each other to keep the other from spending any money but at least one of us (usually me) inevitably does.

I can't decide whether I should be proud of FCN for being such a faithful disciple and willing convert (see, when I first met her, she wasn't into shopping to such an alarming degree at all) or shocked. Unlike me, she's not into amassing clutter, doesn't swoon over objects that could be described as "cute", "girly" or "original" and as she hardly wears any make-up or jewellery that category is ruled out as well. She almost exclusively splashes out on clothes and books. And unlike me, the queen of bargain-hunting (yes, I do know that 3 cheap things you don't really need amount to the same as one expensive item so you might as well just buy that one instead), she's not afraid to whip out her VISA card for purchases in the 3-digit (Euro) range. Did you know Esprit had platinum store cards? I didn't either until they sent FCN one...

So if you happen to see two (young and gorgeous looking, even if I do say so myself) thirtysomethings, roaming Graben and Kärntner Straße with fierce determination and occasional hectic looks at their watches, elbowing skiving students, desperate housewives and retirees out of their way (they can bloody well shop some other time!), that will be us.
My down coat was the best investment ever. Not only does it serve its purpose in the sub-zero temperatures we're having but apart from keeping me warm it's kuschelig (there is no good translation for this German adjective which can mean "cosy" and "comfy" as well as "cuddly") beyond belief. I think I'm in love.

Lunch-break purchases: From today's (solo) mission I returned with groceries only. Sorry.

Monday, January 09, 2006


My weekend was quite a productive one as I managed to do some of the stuff I had been planning to organise for quite some time: I took down the Christmas decorations in my flat and tidied my messy desk at last, visited my great-aunt in her old people's home and finally watched one of the DVDs* I got from the Mermaid . I also found a sexy pair of jeans (ahem) and did some DIY of the sartorial kind. I got the idea from my Mum, actually, who showed me some jumpers she had transformed into cardigans. I thus transformed an old tight-fitting jumper with a dodgy collar which was a bit on the short side anyway (I'm not into bare midriffs, least of all in winter) into a cardie.
Here's the evidence:
Exhibit a: boring jumper and pink ribbon. Exhibit b: good-bye jumper, hello cardie!recycling(onemorehandbag) Unfortunately you can't see it that well on the picture but I'm also wearing a self-made belt, made with sequinned elastic and a recovered (i.e. I was allowed to cut up a macrame belt my Mum made in the 60s) clasp. Oh, and the bracelet is one of the products of last Friday's occupational therapy chez Coma HQ. It's actually quite a cool feeling to cut right through the middle of a garment with your scissors. Hmmm, does this make me a psychopath...TD, you better watch out!

* Watching the DVD (In Her Shoes. Not bad and with 2 great actresses, but your usual predictable chick flick) was quite an interesting experience. The start-menu was obviously copied from the original DVD, making viewers believe that it's just an illegal copy of a shop-bought (or store-rented, more likely) DVD when in fact the actual film had obviously been filmed right off the big screen by means of a handheld minicam. The quality was as can be expected and occasionally the person who taped it (or the unsuspecting person sitting next to him/her) had accidentally touched the mike. One, two, three. Testing. Plus there was one rather audible cough (think Beavis and Butthead) which got considerably worse towards the end of the film. Very annoying. Tomorrow night a friend is coming to watch Flight Plan, another of the Mermaid's souvenirs from the Philippines but I've already made sure that that DVD's a copy from a proper DVD as opposed to a dodgy "home-video" shot from the cinema...
Lunch-break purchases: Nothing noteworthy. Well, I did buy a pair of jeans on Saturday, didn't I.

Friday, January 06, 2006


While the majority of the Viennese are still tucked in their beds - it's a holiday here but we inmates of Coma HQ are required to work which is only fair after the long New Year's holiday we got - I'm at the office as usual. The sheer excitement of a day without the postman or visitors (most people don't expect us to be open today so don't turn up) or any official phone-calls for that matter. In a desperate attempt at occupational therapy I've taken beads and elastic in to make some more bracelets...

I thought I'd regale you with pictures of my yellow purchases, part of the booty from Tuesday's shopping spree. That's actually the reverse side of the bag there but I wanted to show off the matching leather key ring I bought at BREE as well and which I decided to attach to the zipper. I don't know yet on what occasion to wear the yellow...erm...carpet? thing but it might come in handy one day, you never know.

Speaking of shopping sprees -
newcoat(onemorehandbag) Last night I returned to Peek&Cloppenburg where I had found a nice down coat on a reconnaissance mission on Monday. See, my Mum told me I could pick a coat as a birthday present from her so for once I did not have to feel guilty for splurging out on yet another item of clothing. I did not buy it right away on Monday (oh the sweet adrenaline rush and uncertainty until you find out whether your size will still be there when you return...) because I was wearing jeans that day and wanted to see if it was long enough to be worn with (knee-lenght) skirts. It was and I took the baby home with me. As you can see I'm not scared of loud colours. At all. An English friend of mine once claimed that "bright colours are rather continental". If they are, then I'm your typical Central European. I also quite like the coat's unusual quilting although I'm seriously beginning to doubt its flattering (i.e. bum-diminishing) properties when I look at this photo. In case you're wondering whether strange two-toned hair is all the rage in Austria - well, that's my natural colour(s), probably due to the fact that the bottommost layers never get to see any light because of all that hair covering it.

I probably won't write again until Monday so here's wishing you all a nice weekend. Among other things we've planned, TD and I will be attending a 30th birthday party on Sunday. I wish I could turn back time to mine!

Purchase-Forecast: With all shops closed today, I think I can safely predict I won't spend money on things other than a coffee...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Please forgive me, Akira!

I don't know why I had got it into my head that Akira Kurosawa's films weren't my kettle of fish. I dimly remember seeing a montage of his cinematographic highlights at an Academy Awards ceremony absolutely ages ago when he (posthumously?) won an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement of which I more or less only remember black-and-white samurais. When colleagues told me that we'd get free tickets for the Kurosawa retrospective currently on at the Film Museum I couldn't muster much enthusiasm but eventually agreed to accompany them to Rhapsody in August when I found out that Richard Gere was in it. The idea of a young(er) Richard Gere (I really liked him pre grey hair days. Rrrrrrrr. Being a bit of a cradle-snatcher, I'm one of the few women for whom grey streaks and a "mature" lined face don't do anything) in a Japanese film was intriguing. And so we went to see it last night.

I was so wrong in my preconceived verdict of Kurosawa, the film was incredibly beautiful and sad at the same time. It was perfect in so many ways in spite of the end being rather puzzling and unsatisfactory but then again I much prefer films which don't have a happy ending anyway. Watching the film was the equivalent of lying curled up on the sofa, reading your favourite book and snacking on something forbidden while it's raining outside. Bliss! I would have been happy had it gone on for another hour or two.
Today's office-coma has so far been just as bad as yesterday's (if not worse) but at least I was cheered up by FCN's souvenirs from England, a book (Kafka on the Shore) and a sixpack of salt and vinegar crisps. Hurray!
Lunch-break purchases: This morning I passed a tableware shop on my way to work and saw that Iittala glasses were half price. Do I really need to mention that I went back to purchase some (four, to be precise)?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I've always secretly suspected it but now I know for a fact that I serve a purely decorative function at the office. I mean, if you came back after a 12-day absence (admittedly, only 3 of those were working days) wouldn't you expect at least some work (i.e. piles of paper on your desk) to wait for you? I should of course know better after 7 1/2 years of working @ Coma HQ, as I like to call it. There were 56 mails in my Inbox, 46 of them spam, the remaining 10 Christmas and New Year's greetings.

New Year's resolution (again): find a proper job. Unfortunately, there's a catch: I'm waiting for myself to grow up and figure out what exactly I want to do. It's much easier to list the things I don't want to do which is one reason why I haven't left even though I've been bored senseless pretty much since day one. The other reasons arem my laziness and the cosy familiarity of colleagues who are at the same time friends. Plus punching out at 5:30 on the dot and not having to waste a single thought about work once you leave the premises, not mentioning the all the blogging, reading and jewellery-making I get to do on company time. Speaking of nice colleagues, I'm waiting for my reliable moaning-partner,
FCN to come back from her hols for a good bitch-fest. Boredom is much more bearable when it's shared.

Lunch-time purchases: I got the last present for the January birthday babes, a rather original (tea) cup and saucer. I just talked to my Mum on the phone who was not too impressed by the colour of the BREE rucksack I picked for her (there wasn't much choice). Looks like I bought 2 bags for myself yesterday, not just one...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back to haunt you

I'm back. First of all, a Happy 2006 to all of you! After 11 days in KLU, Turkish Delight and I returned to VIE on 1 Jan. We definitely got "value for money" on the journey which lasted forever due to snow, rain and congested roads. Speaking of snow - there was plenty back home:snow!(onemorehandbag)TD perfected his snow-shovelling skills and I went skiing with my Mum as planned but the annual two-country-daytrip-combo (to Kranjska Gora and Tarvisio) was cancelled because of the weather. Predictably, we pretty much spent our days eating (lots!), watching crap TV, going for walks and boosting the Carinthian economy. We braved the snow to eat some more at friends' in Villach who conjured up a 4-course meal for us and went to the cinema for a bit of culture. New Year's Eve we celebrated at the Pampered Princess' weekend retreat, a stylish apartment overlooking the Wörthersee.
Christmas with my parents and maternal granny was very nice and I can't complain about my presents either. Although I had already got my "big present", the trip to Copenhagen with Mum, I got lots more from my parents. I told you I was a spoilt brat, didn't I? I got the green bag (which I had picked myself on a trip to Italy with my parents in October) from Mum and the bike-courier-bag from a friend who's an artist. It features a still from one of her videos and is definitely one of the coolest bags I own. And I own...a few. TD insisted on taking the photo of me behind the "sale" sign as it shows yours truly in action. I actually found a very nice, 20-ies style knitted top for an incredible € 2,90 where that picture was taken, at C&A, a rather tacky and overwhelming store I usually avoid but went that day on the search for opaque tights for my granny.

Yesterday (which like today was a holiday for me; having Japanese employers does have some perks after all), I spent all day catching up on lost shoportunities in the Viennese sales. I did not buy anything for myself (well, almost, if you don't count 4 dramatically reduced plates and a bowl) but managed to find some birthday gifts. Incredibly, 7 of my friends' birthdays are - like my own - in January. A rather expensive month...

Klagenfurt-purchases: Two tops (the cheap one, and another one from MEXX) scented tea lights, chocolate (gifts), various materials (sequinned and velvet) for making belts with, underwear, socks, more gifts for birthday girls, etc.

Today's shopping spree: We spent the greater part of today at places which are unbearable on Saturdays when we would normally frequent them, a designer outlet store a 20-min-drive from VIE airport, and IKEA. I had to redeem my € 5 birthday-voucher sent to me by IKEA after all... Even though it was a normal workday, the shops weren't exactly deserted. In any case, this was a real project. We left home at half 10 and got back shortly after 6 p.m. I bought 4 (!) incredibly cheap and gorgeous bags at the BREE outlet store, 3 of them presents for others, 1 (canary yellow!) as a little token of affection for myself, lots of chocolates at the Lindt outlet a funny poncho-style knitted thing from InWear (again, bright yellow. I think buying the bag might have triggered off a "yellow phase" or something. I wouldn't usually buy odd-shaped tops, shrugs or foulards at all, but it looked dead cool with my jeans and only cost a modest €15) and a retro anorak (with a belt and those kids' style mittens with a ribbon through the sleeves so you can take them off without loosing them. I got very nostalgic when I spotted those and simply HAD to have the anorak) from S.Oliver. It was only € 25 so I didn't feel too guilty for buying yet another jacket. After having bought half of the Body Shop outlet's stock (they sold body scrubs for €1 which are about € 16 in their regular stores) we left the premises to grab some junk food to fortify ourselves for IKEA. There, I only bought some bits and pieces, failing once more to find the coffee table of my dreams.
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