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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe Launches

Last Thursday, I was off on a special mission. A mission that took me all the way to Kenilworth, faster than a shooting star, headed for Kenilworth Books to make it on time for the launch of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe.

Last time I was at a launch for a Lauren James book, I’d already read the book. This time, I had to wait until the launch to get my own copy,  so anticiaption levels were high, because 1) book launches are inherently cool, 2) I haven’t seen Lauren in a little while and 3) I could finally get my hands on a copy off The Loneliest Girl.

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It’s such a pretty cover, guys

Me and Beth rocked up in our finest space gear. The Loneliest Girl is set aboard a spaceship called The Infinity, and so the invitation encouraged space inspired outfits. And the first thing we did when we walked through the door was get glittered up.

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Not featured: my space skirt and Beth’s space top. 

As ever the food was themed, meaning lots of star and moon shaped biscuits, star sprinkled brownies and a fabulous looking cake inspired by the book cover. Fun fact: the cake had skittles and popping candy inside it. Absolutely delicious.

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So impressive

Lauren’s editor made a speech about how great the book has been to work on and how great Lauren has been to work with. And then Lauren made a speech about how excited she is about The Loneliest Girl. Last week it was announced that Harper Collins will be publishing the USA run, so it’s no wonder that Lauren’s super excited for her third book.

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Srs author business

Before cutting the cake and signing everyone’s copies of The Loneliest Girl, Lauren read the first chapter aloud. I’m so looking forward to reading The Loneliest Girl – a space romantic thriller. Not a combination of words you hear every day.

You can read the first chapter for free here or listen to Lauren read it here. And if you want to get your hands on The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James, you should be able to at your nearest bookshop.

I had a great time at the launch, and I’m sure reading The Loneliest Girl is going to be just as good. Watch this space for a review.

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Space glitter nerds

I was invited to the launch of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe as a friend, not as blogger. This blog post is entirely just because I had a great time, and book launches are cool.

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Ladies who Afternoon Tea

At the end of April I headed to London, in search of good company and distractions. London is full of both and this is how Maddie and I ended up at Sketch for afternoon tea.

Judging by my Facebook newsfeed, Sketch is one of the places to go for afternoon tea in London. It has 4 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor and Time Out describes it as “a place with wow factor”. All in all, it was promising, even if those promises included the word expensive as well as fabulous.

Walking into Sketch felt like walking into Wonderland. Going through what felt like tent flaps pinned back, into a dark, spacious hallway with various pieces of odd and interesting art, we were greeted warmly and directed towards the The Parlour. To get to The Parlour, you go past the cloakroom and through The Glade, which we marvelled very briefly at before we reached The Parlour.

Now, I will admit that we were early. Any place that takes your credit card details when you book so that they can charge you if you don’t turn up is guaranteed to have me arrive half an hour early. So of course we were told our table wasn’t ready. Which is completely fine, though we weren’t sure where we would go for twenty minutes, especially as it was raining outside and window shopping is only good when one doesn’t have rain dripping down one’s neck.

But we started to head back out, but the lovely greeter, confused as to why we were leaving so soon, suggested we go back to The Glade and have a drink at the bar while we waited. This was an excellent suggestion.

The Glade was gorgeous.

The Glade was beautiful, decked out as if there was a lawn party in the middle of a forest. With dappled green walls, moving mirrors to catch the light and wicker chairs, it was lovely. The cocktails we went for were delicious, and I have no doubt that any of the selection would have been equally good. And the waitress was excellent, suggesting other drinks when they were out of the one I wanted.

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Edible flowers are the best.

Eventually our time came, and we went back into The Parlour to have afternoon tea. The Parlour is very 1920s and very pink, as well as lined with David Shrigley’s work. The overall effect was…interesting. David Shrigley is an artist whose work I’ve encountered several times, and sometimes I walk away feeling unsettled and sometimes I walk away with a smile. The full range of his work on display at Sketch meant I was unsettled and smiling which is a very odd feeling. And as for the décor of the room…I felt like I’d walked into a womb.

Some excellent crockery.

The Parlour is as different from The Glade as it could possibly be, and to leave a room I loved so much to go into one that made me a scooch uneasy was saddening. I’m sure that for many people The Parlour is gorgeous, but I wished we were still in The Glade.

With a choice of nearly 20 different teas, we were soon sipping away from china designed by David Shrigley. Although we were served our drinks fast, it then took another 20 minutes before we saw any sandwiches or cake. I may have missed a memo about current afternoon tea etiquette, but I always assumed one had the tea with the sandwiches and cake. Happily, the tea is refillable so we weren’t left as bereft of beverages as I was concerned we might be.

So much food. So much. 

The food was delightful. Tiny parcels of pesto and chicken, salmon sandwiches with caviar sprinkled on them, cucumber and asparagus sandwiches…The list goes on. I would recommend not biting into caviar though. I didn’t realise what it was until I had. Rookie mistake.

Cakes included the densest coffee and chocolate cake topped with gold leaf, adorable strawberry tarts and profiteroles filled with raspberry sauce. In addition to the cake stand, we had a scone each and the pudding of the day, which was pear something French.

For the most part, the food was delicious, and the bits that weren’t are a question of taste. Like the egg sandwiches that had olives in them. I’m not a proper adult yet and do not enjoy olives. At all.  So on grounds of food, I would very much recommend Sketch.

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The toilets were space pods. SPACE. PODS.

Some of the other bits of the experience were less good. For one thing, when we sat down, I sat in the booth rather than the chair and the man leading us to our table then trapped me there by pushing the table in. Then he moved the next table along closer to us, as if to make sure that I would never escape. This proved awkward when I had to ask the people next to us to move their table and then ask Maddie to move ours so I could discover the ridiculous toilets. I got some serious side-eye, but it was that or climbing over the back of the booth.

We also couldn’t pay the bill. Which is to say, after we were presented with the bill, no-one came to ask us to pay it. For half an hour. In which time the people next to us, who had been given their bill at the same time, paid and went. In the end, I had to flag a passing waitress down.

Overall, I really wasn’t impressed with the service at Sketch. I’m not sure if me and Maddie looked particularly young or out of place, but we were paying the same £45 as everyone else. So while the food was great, and the décor fascinating, the lack of good service and being wedged into a corner dampened the experience as much as the rain had dampened our window shopping plans.

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Pass the Parcel Overload.

A confession: I may have somewhat forgotten to write this blog post. Hence it’s sparseness. Blame the weather and the fact that I’m leaving soon has suddenly hit me. 

Not much was done in Monday. Tutoring prep and wandering round Ilmenau were the order or the day. 

Tuesday I wasn’t needed in my first class, which was fine, though there was an awkward moment where I used ‘sie’ meaning they and the teacher thought I meant ‘Sie’ as in formal ‘you’ and told me I could use ‘du’ aka the informal you.  Then in my second and third class I talked about birthdays. 
 
In the evening I was at a CV for the first time in about a month. Not much has changed. Except for the president.
 
First lesson on Wednesday was Maths instead of English which was fairly straightforward as it was one of the 1/2 classes. In my second and third classes I talked about birthdays and then we played pass the parcel. I have a class of kids who can’t read ‘cake’ but can sing along perfectly to Olly Murs. Then in my final class we watched A Very Hungry Caterpillar and I was asked the difference between muffins and cupcakes. (Answer: I have no idea.)
 
At tutoring we did about the weather – a giant map of the UK helping my impression of a weather person – and played Guess Who.
 
Thursday I did Maths and German on the computers with Klasse 3/4c, same old, same old.
 
On Friday, I talked about birthdays and played pass the parcel with my first class. Bored of Olly Murs at this point, I ended up using Queen. Because Queen is always appropriate music. In my second class I was talking about family, which included making a family tree out of pictures of my family. Also a discussion on whether half siblings and step siblings count as just siblings, which I didn’t really feel qualified to weigh on, seeing as I don’t have any siblings of any kind. Third and final class was watching A Very Hungry Caterpillar. 
 
Saturday was spent in Erfurt, shopping and generally enjoying the sunshine. It was really weird to think that it might be the last time I’m ever in Erfurt. I’m going to really miss this one book shop.
 
Don’t really remember what I did on Sunday, so I’m guessing it wasn’t a lot. Probably some tutoring prep. 

 

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Of Children and Classes.

So Monday mainly involved lesson planning for tutoring. Having given the kids a test last week, which they aced, I don’t need to retrace introductions, family or descriptions. So I decided to move onto countries. It turns out I needed beolingus.de (a german dictionary site) at hand at all times while making work sheets, because I know none of the countries in German. I even forgot Spain. Which is Spanien. Ah well, it all worked out in the end.

Tuesday I had work as usual. In my first class, Vincent decided he wasn’t going to play ball, which led to me perfecting my “I don’t care who started it, I’m finishing it” voice. Ashley wanted to know if her name is English or American, and when I said it was an international name, she decided it was definitely American because of Ashley Tisdale. And then one of the other girls told me she has the exact same T-Shirt as me. I have the same T-shirt as an 8 year old. I’m not really sure how to react to that.

Of course, there was a Café meeting. Don’t really remember much about it, other than talking to Kim about Torchwood. And being shocked that someone I’ve spoken to once remembered my name.

Wednesday kicked off with me being asked to write an English poem on the board, which I did no problem. Fifteen minutes later I realised I’d written ‘Snowmann’ not ‘snowman’. In my defence the teacher didn’t notice that I’d capitalised the s and doubled the n.

In the next lesson I got to talk about my home town  and Birmingham again. I think the most interesting thing about that particular lesson is that whenever I write up ’26 000, 67 594, 1 085 400’ on the board and say that the 26 000 is the population of Ilmenau, and then ask what could the 67 594 mean, the kids always ask if that’s the population of England. I mean, I know we’re smaller than Germany, but come on.

I wasn’t with class 3/4c for lessons 3&4 because they had important German things to learn, so instead I was in two more English classes. Talked about breakfast some more. Got to go to classes I don’t often see. Was pretty chilled considering I found out on the day I was doing it.

And then finally, I’ve been saying for the past few weeks that the class I’m meant to be with last doesn’t have English then any more. As of this week I go to a different class. The kids love me. I mean, seriously, they were super excited to see me. This is a class I haven’t been in since October. Oh, it’s hard being a Foreign language assistant. (Note the sarcasm.)

Thursday, surprise, surprise, the kids had a maths test. So I sat there for 45 minutes looking ornamental. But then! In the second half, I got to do reading with the dyslexic boy, which was interesting. As I believe I have mentioned before, I do not know how to say every German word. Yet I’m trying to correct his pronunciation… But he did really well this week. So yeah.

Friday I talked about Birmingham to one of my regular classes and have persuaded them that it’s better than London, mainly because of Cadbury World. Some of them had heard of Aston Villa FC, which was surprising to me, but then again, I know nothing about football. My two football facts are 1. Wolverhampton Wanderers are also known as Wolves (I thought they were different teams for the longest time) and 2. Dortmund sometimes play in yellow (I know this because I thought they were Hufflepuff). Another thing I mentioned about Birmingham was its’ partner cities. These include Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig. Now, I don’t know for definite, but I’m pretty sure the reason there’s two German cities in the list is that Frankfurt was in the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) and Leipzig was in the GDR (German Democratic Republic). I asked the kids why they thought there were two and got some interesting suggestions (and was also asked why anyone would partner with Leipzig). But it was the teacher who eventually suggested that it was because of the FRG and GDR. Guess the kids haven’t reached that bit in history yet.

My second lesson was technically cancelled, but I’d been told to go to one of the other English classes instead. So I did. But that teacher had no idea I was turning up, and was teaching about nature and animals (auf Deutsch) when I rocked up. She asked if I was there to do English, and I said yes, and she left me to it. I ended up asking the kids their names, their ages and where they’re from and then singing head, shoulders, knees and toes with them, before the teacher realised that I didn’t have anything else to do with them and came and rescued me. Basics, I’d been told she would be expecting me and she wasn’t. So it was a bit of a surprise for both of us.

My last lesson I mainly spent telling boys off for battering each other. And telling kids it didn’t matter who was the last in the line. Seriously, why is that so important to primary school kids? I remember it being important when I was little as well. Madness.

Friday night I went out to paint the town red. Well, I went out to hang out with people, maybe do some drinking and dancing. It turns out that the best wine is free wine, boys can say problematic things in Germany as well as England and I can’t dance to hip hop. And apparently my pronunciation of Scheiße is spot on. Must be all the times I hear the kids at school say it.

Saturday was spent alternating between tidying and watching tv. Seriously. That was my day. And very enjoyable it was too. Sunday involved helping with the tidying up operation after a brunch put on by the BC Café. I got to meet a couple of new people, practice speaking coherent German to attractive people (not my strong suit) and generally stress out about whether the reason I was failing at tasks was because my German wasn’t good enough or if the instructions I was given weren’t good enough. Turns out it was a little bit of both.

Sunday evening I hung out with Ausama and horrified him by the pronouncement that I don’t like olives. Think I reassured him by liking cake and wine. But there was a good ten minutes of discussion about why I don’t like olives.

And as my final note on the week, Therese’s been ill most of the week, as has her boyfriend, though happily they are now better. But our flat’s reputation as a plague house may have to continue for a while longer, as I think I’m getting ill. So if my weekly update for next week is essentially ‘I felt blah the whole week and didn’t really do much’ I apologise.