Summer Returns to the Mindset in Frankfurt

One of the things that I got very used to living in London was the unpredictable weather. Rain or shine, you always took your umbrella out with you, and the decision over whether to got for a cheap one which would blow inside out after three goes and require buying another, or splash out on an expensive one with a week’s worth of pay and have it blow inside out after six goes, was a question we constantly asked ourselves and one another. This was equally the case in summer and winter. For the first time I owned a winter coat and one pair of socks wouldn’t cut it – again, this was the case at some points of the summer as well as throughout the winter as we bemoaned the death of our favourite season from our lives and sunk another pint at the pub.

It’s well documented that London’s summer leaves much to be desired. I always loved Nick Hornby’s description of a pub’s outdoor area in England in his book ‘A Long Way Down':

“I took her outside on to a little roof terrace that looked like it never got the sun at nay time of the day or year, but there was a picnic table and a grill out there anyway. Those little grills are everywhere in England, right? To me they’ve come to represent the triumph of hope over circumstance, seeing as all you can do is peer at them out the window through the pissing rain.”

I think the best part about this quote is that it actually represents the entirety of summer in London; while it is as unpredictable as the winter in terms of weather, and will only bring you a collective couple of weeks of pure joy, when it does the Londoners come out in full force to sunbathe in the parks, bask in the beer gardens and try and take in and enjoy every aspect of the sun on their skin like a temporary triumph over the general shittiness of their city’s weather.

Moving to Frankfurt, I naively expected more of the same – after all, Germany is pretty cold in the winter and it’s not as though I’m moving to a beautiful beachside town. But somehow it is here that i’ve recaptured that summer feeling where the sleepless nights, warm days for months on end and the ability to go out without a coat of any kind have reminded me so much of one of the greatest things of living in Aus.

I bought my first fan the other day since moving to Europe; while England does have a few hot days the nights are mostly cool and any uncomfortable-ness at the heat never lasted long enough for me to mind. Here, it is the opposite. So far, I’ve made a blind for my sky window to try and stop the heat getting in, woken up at 3am to reach for the fan many times, twice breaking glasses and scaring the whole house in the process, and brought back a sheet I left in London (apparently Germans don’t do sheets, apart from the undersheet – they do ‘summer blankets’, with the blanket part clearly defeating the purpose) to become my new bedding.

My homemade blind – First DIY project! Material,
velcro and fabric glue (which sticks to walls apparently)
came to 17 Euros in total :)

There’s also a beach here – well sort of, it’s a lake with sand and the Germans don’t seem to be able to explain to me thus far how the sand got there. It’s no Manly but it’s certainly a nice break from citylife.

Frankfurt’s version of a beach.

So far I would say the summers I experienced in Sydney are very much like this temperature-wise, and while I don’t enjoy the sleeplessness or the uncomfortable-ness, I have to admit it’s been a nice feeling to live somewhere that does summer properly again.

One of the things that makes summer easier as well is the many beautiful parks surrounding Frankfurt city. I live just a 10 minute walk from the centre, and pass two parks on my way to the shops which is a nice change from my life in London where the choice was more either the park or the city centre, not both (unless you could afford one of those awesome Chelsea-style apartment blocks with the private parks).

It does seem the tradition in London of wanting to get away for the summer has carried through to Frankfurt. For us, it’ll be a trip to Croatia for a week and a half to sunbathe, go diving and white water rafting, then onto a beach town in Hungary called ‘Siofok’ (it looks nice in google images) and then Budapest for the music festival which according to my seasoned-friend will be the best festival I’ll ever go to. After Glastonbury I’m not so sure that’s possible.

At one of the cocktail nights which I’m a regular attendant of, someone who had been living in Frankfurt told me that the city is much more lively in the summer than the winter. I found that hard to believe as I’d been here for Christmas markets and they were pretty damn lively. Perhaps she was referring to the months of January-June, when like London the place probably closes down into a counting down period until we can lose the wellies, put our winter coats in storage, and open those outdoor areas of the German beerhouses once more. But at least when next winter comes in Frankfurt, I’ll be counting down until what I know will be a real long hot summer, not just a couple of collective weeks with a feeling deep down that I’ve moved to a place where climatically at least, I will not be compatible in the long term.

Till next time xx

Five Reasons Why Glastonbury Blew My Mind

I’m not the most seasoned festival goer, or the biggest music lover (I tend to listen to music for background noise more than as a hobby), but whenever the chance has risen to head out with friends to watch some live music, no matter what the genre I’ve always been up for giving a performer a chance. My only camping festival experience before Glastonbury had been Reading in 2011, and despite the young age group in attendance and the normal practise of burning tents on the last night, as well as only really knowing the headline acts, I had had an amazing time.

So Glastonbury – I assumed it would be a lot like Reading (in the basic sense), and with it being a serious bucket list item for me – when I was a kid and watched clips on Video Hits of the festival, I never dreamt in a million years I’d be able to go one day – we enthusiastically all got up at an ungodly hour on a hungover morning in October 2012 to get tickets to a five day event where we didn’t have the slightest clue who would be performing. There were rumours the Rolling Stones would be there, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up about seeing one of the most famous bands in the last 50 years.

Fast forward nine months, and I am so thankful that I decided to try and get those tickets on that fateful day. Because what I experienced over June 26-July 1st was something that I don’t know if I’ll ever have the chance to experience again (though there are plans to do a trip back to Glasto for my 30th!). Here’s five reasons why it blew my mind and surpassed every expectation I had:

1. It’s not a festival, it’s a town

As the days went by we began to feel more like we were part of a town than at a music festival. Getting lost on the first night while we were trying to find V Bar (which turned out to be B Bar, hence the trouble finding it), the walk around just one of the parts of Glasto took around half an hour. I’ve been to small towns around Europe and this could certainly have passed off as one of them. From areas with craft fields and endless shops with artwork, clothes and festival accessories, to areas for Latino food and music, to a weird ‘heaven and hell’ area which would be interesting to walk through on acid, to chill out and acoustic areas, to the circus tent, to the place where if i were a child, I’d be in heaven… Glastonbury really had absolutely everything and I know in the six days we were there we certainly didn’t nearly see everything.

Glasto: More town than festival

2. The music you never knew before, and can’t live without now

We were a rather large group, but myself and two good friends planned to navigate our own way around and meet up with the others as we went along.

I was lucky to have mates with good musical taste!

I won’t say I was overwhelmed with joy at the line up (apart from the Stones, obviously) – Arctic Monkeys and Mumford & Sons are not two of my favourite bands, and when my friends moved to convince me to go elsewhere it was a rather easy task. Friday night, we saw Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, and it was like a musical education. A guy I’d never heard of before that night, has written some of the most influential songs in history, penning for Madonna, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Duran Duran and most recently his sample is on the Daft Punk song Get Lucky. He really is the musical gift that keeps on giving and I’m kicking myself for not having known him earlier. Meanwhile, on Sunday we saw American singer/guitarist Gary Clark Jnr, and he equally surprised me. He just screamed cool in ways I don’t know if I’ve ever seen in a live show before, and he’s been added indefinitely to my Spotify playlist now.

3. The headliners surpassed unbelievably high expectations

I had a feeling seeing the Rolling Stones on Saturday night, at Glastonbury, and from the planned front of the stage position we were going for, would be a performance to beat every other that I’ve witnessed in my life. As the days led up to their set, we all talked about the possibility of being disappointed after hyping ourselves up so much for it. I accepted it was going to be a likely fact that they wouldn’t be as good as I pictured in my head. I complained when my friends made their way to the front, concerned about the pushing and the inability to pee for the next four or so hours while we waited. But as they came on, I was instantly transported back to when I was that child, watching them on Video Hits and feeling like they were so far away from reality.

He had the moves like the Jagger of old

Now, they were right in front of me, and sounded every bit as when I was on summer holidays with my parents, blaring them out of the sound system. Like their music or not, their performance within itself was extraordinary; my grandfather can hardly walk, and after years of drugs, alcohol and partying these guys still have every bit the energy you’d expect from a 20 year old performer. So Stones, I salute you, and thank you for putting on a show I’ll remember till I’m your age at least.

4. The friends you make

We were lucky enough to have some great friends willing to take our tents for us on a 4am bus on the Wednesday, almost rendering our 7am trip pointless. But when we arrived to tents already set up, and a group area in place and drinks at the ready, it was like we had our own community within the Glasto town already. Whenever you needed a break from the music, there was always someone to chill out with back at the tents as we all planned our itineraries to meet up at different points of the day. I went knowing about 5 people, but have come back with an entire group of new mates, and the in-jokes, the banter, the drinking games, the ‘i have never’s’ where I learnt far too much about these people, were as much a part of the experience as the music.

My birthday night at Glastonbury – spent with my new best friends

5. Post-Glasto Life just isn’t the same

Here I was thinking that after six days I’d be desperate to go home and have a shower, eat normal food again, and have the privilege of standing up while I got changed rather than having to be creative in my tiny tent. But when I woke up on Monday morning, and looked around at the deserted camp site while struggling to compute how to start packing, the last thing in the world that I wanted was to go home. Walking through the train station back at London Victoria, people were all dressed normally, and it made me so sad! After returning to Frankfurt I’ve showered less than I thought I would, and my desperation for cheese toasties in the morning has grown considerably. Gigwise summed up the post-Glasto blues much better than I have, but getting ready for a night out last night, when Daft Punk came on my Spotify, I’m not going to lie, it brought a small tear to my eye.

So there you have it kids. If you get the opportunity, do Glastonbury once in your life, you won’t regret it I solemnly swear. Of course, I am off to Budapest in a month for Szeiget music festival, so my blues are being soothed by this fact somewhat!

Till next time xx