July 2023

Another month gone and now it feels like the year is almost over. According to the news, this year’s July was one of the warmest but also one with more rain than usual. Yeah, I noticed that. But it is good, we had summers where there was no rain for months.

July was my vacation month. I took 2,5 weeks off of work.

I visited a friend in London for 4 days. It was very exhausting; the city is so loud and there is so much trouble. I forgot my loops but at least I had my in-ear nc plugs. I did a lot of shopping, mostly my usual stuff at Whittard, Waterstone’s and HMV. I tried new food, I especially liked Wagamama and cinnamon pretzel sticks.
I also had the crazy idea to do three museums in a day. Well, turns out: time are changing. It’s not like back in my London days, where one could conveniently hop into a museum for a bit. It was so FULL. You should book entry tickets in advance, otherwise you can easily spend one hour or more waiting for entrance. I had to wait for my entrance slot, so I spent two hours at the Victoria & Albert Museum. No entrance slots, queues and crowds there. It’s a nice collection of various titbits and statues from all around the world. Nice to look at but it seems a bit old-fashioned with colonialism in mind, and how much everything cost the people of the UK just to entertain their monarchs (how about a real size replica of David by Michelangelo?). Well, but they have a nice café there where I got delicious scones. Next stop was the Science Museum. I remembered it as huge and fun. Yeah. Nowadays it was okay. I still love the space exhibition with rockets and landing modules. The rest wasn’t that interesting to me. But I got to see my first exhibition about Corona. Weird being part of history. So, I mostly enjoyed the space stuff, it was a bit surreal because my freshest memories are of the tv show For All Mankind which is not a completely accurate rendition of history. Then I did some shopping at the gift shop and got a NASA magnet, yay. Next stop was the Natural History Museum which was even louder and more crowded than the Science Museum. I enjoyed the vast stone and gem collection and wanted to become a stone collector myself. Well, I kind of did and bought some colourful stones in the gift shop. I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the collection (mostly stuffed animals) because there were just too many screaming kids around. In the dinosaur exhibition, I was on the verge on a panic attack, it wasn’t only crowded but also very narrow. Not a good museum. I definitely prefer the natural history museum in Vienna.
In the evening, we went to see the Les Miserables musical. It was good, the stage setup was awesome, but the musical was too long and depressing for my taste. The next day we spent in Richmond near the Themes River and in the evening, we spontaneously went to see the Frozen Musical. It was gorgeous and magical, I can totally recommend it. I hope that at my next visit the weather will be either fine enough to visit Windsor or Kew Gardens.

Next vacation was in the Netherlands in a holiday house near the beach. We have been there a couple of times and it was nice as usual. The doggys could play in the large garden, we swam in the ocean (even Panka) and ate a lot of greasy and sugary Dutch stuff.

Last but not least: we went to the Zoo in Wuppertal. A town not far from Cologne known for its Schwebebahn. In my opinion, one of the most disgusting and inconvenient means of public transport (I have lived there for about 3 years). But the Zoo is so beautiful! I think it is the best one in my area. So green, spacious and well-kept. I hope to go there again soon.

So, lot of nice things in July but now I am happy to go back to some routine and less traveling.

The most complex game we tried was The Way of Panda. It was okay but not really good. Same goes for Paper Dungeons. Other than that, I played a coupled of small games like the Clever series, Fantasy Realms, The Game, Port Royal and Piraten Kapern!

I consumed nine books, didn’t even notice it were that many. About falf audio books and half reading books.
My favs:
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (recommend using the audio book)
The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie wooooorld~ Yeah, Barbie was my fav. It was funny, entertaining and had some pretty serious notes. And I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the cinema, such good vibes. I also enjoyed Riders of Justice with Mads Mikkelsen, Slumberland and Bones and All.

TV Shows:
I watched the newest season of Black Mirror. It was good but not so dark as some previous episodes. I also said goodbye to the Witcher. The third season was really bad. But at least we had some nice scenes with our little family of Geralt, Yen and Ciri. I’ll probably not watch another season. I adore Henry Cavill but even if it wasn’t him: I hate it when they swap actors. This was only funny in Roseanne.

June 2023

Let’s see if I will be better with monthly reviews. I still do my daily diary but it’s shorter and for me only.

Looking back June was soooo full. But mostly good stuff. There was the Muse concert which was awesome. I visted my Clever friends two times, had my coworker and her partner over for boardgames, had a nice pancake & zoo visit with two friends, a breakfast with my coworkers, a very good workshop at work, the summer party of our faculty, survived lots of appointments, played a lot of backgammon and other boardgames.

On top of that I finally got a Playstation 5 and the newest Final Fantasy. I have been a fan of the series since Final Fantasy 8, and now 16 really got to me. I love the story and could play it for hours if I had the time. It hasn’t that many RPG elements as the Final Fantasys, but the story is superb and the gameplay fun. I’m so glad we got rid of the open-world stuff. I hated it so much in 15.

I tried Sea, Salt and Paper for the first time and really enjoyed it. But my boardgame of the month is Ark Nova which I played twice. And Backgammon as my fav quick game.

I read/listened to seven books, wow! (Maybe 8 books if I finish the last one today).
I especially like these two young adult books:
We deserve Mountains by Jas Hammonds
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

My fav film this month: Crimes of the Future. It’s really weird, a kind of medical horror, not everybody’s taste.

TV Shows:
I watched XO, Kitty and The Power, both were kind of ok but nothing special. I looooved Queen Charlotte and The Queen’s Gambit. And I also liked the final season of Never Have I Ever, it was a good ending for the show.

[Book] The Mountains Sing

Yesterday, I finished The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai. In the end I couldn’t put the book away and had to finish it in a longer reading session. It is a multigenerational story about the Trần family, with a focus on Diệu Lan, daughter, mother, grandmother. She lives with her granddaughter Hương and tells her little by little about her life. The story spans from about the 1930s to the late 1970s of Việt Nam, a country rattled by foreign occupation, war and the brutal regime of the Communist party.

The Book Cover of The Mountains Sing. It is held in warm golden-orange tones and shows a very minimal painted figurine with long black hair, a green coat, a white dress and a typical vietnamese hat.

Before, I only knew the historic bits told from the US-American point of view and stories from people whose parents had fled the country and now live in Germany. The book helped me to learn more about Việt Nams history, about the splitting of the country into North and South, about the French and Japanese occupation and the Communist regime, especially the Land Reform. I’m really not good at history and tend to forget very much, but it helps, when the history is flavoured with personal stories as it is in The Mountains Sing.

Quế Mai is a brilliant author who wrote a compassionate story that is easy to follow and has relatable characters. The author is about the age of Diệu Lans grandkids, lived in the north and south of the Việt Nam and wove personal experiences into the story. If you liked Patchinko (multigenerational family story playing in Korea and Japan), you will also enjoy The Mountains Sing. I can fully recommend both books to anyone who could enjoy multigenerational stories.

Although I find the overall spirit of the book uplifting and loving, it contains heavy topics, so please check content notes if necessary.