Use your vote

To the readers of this blog who are eligible to vote in the British General Election, this post is for you! For everyone else apologies, meh, maybe you’ll learn something.

Today is the last day you can register to vote. Register and check eligibility here.

Today is the last chance to make your support, your dissatisfaction and your voice matter. 33.9% of eligible voters failed to vote in the General Election 2015, those votes could have changed the outcome of the election. Don’t ever think that your vote doesn’t count.notthe33

If you are like me, a Brit overseas, and have been out of the UK for under 15 years you are eligible to vote in the General Election. Unfortunately you’ve missed the postal vote deadline, but you can still register and vote by proxy or in person.

Call your council and check that you are registered, even if you voted in the referendum you may need to re-register online to be eligible. Big thanks to the women at Cheshire West and Chester who have dealt with my calls and queries helpfully and quickly.

By Proxy – Someone will vote in your place – The last date you can register for a proxy is Tuesday 30th May. Find out how here.

In Person – Get your arse to your home constituency and vote there – May I suggest a long weekend in GB is in order or just a short hop for the day? Get a cheap deal on Skyscanner (other services are available #notspon) or a lovely chance to use up any air miles you have lying around.

Am I going to tell you who to vote for? no, that is your choice. Am I going to tell you who I’ll be voting for? yes, my constituency is one that could swing away from the Conservatives for the first time in years, and I hope with all my heart that it does. I never thought I’d say that.

Register to vote today #NotThe33

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A beverage paradise

When you spend four years of your life in Franconia, it’s safe to say that you’ll become a lot more picky about beer. Though I think the same is true for most people that live in Germany for any length of time. Not that the beer in Baden-Württemberg or anywhere else in Germany is bad, just different and sometimes you need a taste of ‘home’. The premise of this shop (warehouse) is that it’s a place where you can find a beer that you enjoyed once on holiday. Whilst our cravings were strong, we didn’t have enough time for the 3-4 hour round trip, so after a little investigation MrC discovered the holy grail for beverages Heinrichs Super Getränke-Markt 3000.

The Franconian beer was right by the door as we walked in, which was useful because this place is massive. Most of the bigger breweries were there including the infamous Schlenkerla Rauchbier (smoked beer) that smells like bacon and tastes like….well MrC likes it. I personally prefer the Rauchweizen (smoked wheat beer), it is a little gentler on the palate. Seasonal specialities were also in stock so you won’t miss out on Bock, Fest or Weihnachtsbier.

From the outside you can’t tell how big this place is going to be. Yes, the building is big but I was sceptical as to how many actual beverages we would find inside. As you can see Wasserstrasse and Limostrasse, most of the non alcoholic drinks (that aren’t non alcoholic beer) are located at the back of the store. Beers are separated into types, all the  Weizen will be in the same aisle, same for non alcoholic, fruit beers etc etc And those flat bed trolleys are a life saver when you’re stocking up for a party or just an average Thursday night 😉

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A shout out to the staff who are incredibly helpful and know where everything is, if you want to get in and out quickly accept their help. As you can see it is easy to get lost in here, particularly if you happen to be short like me. MrC and I had to call each other a few times (phone signal is good here thankfully)  because hauling beer all over the shop looking for each other was a pain.

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There is of course a wine section too and it has a really good selection of local and not so local wines. You will find the whole range of cheap Rieslings to finer wines, all handily located on Weinstrasse! Walk through the beer section to the left hand side of the shop to find the wines.

Craft beer made in Germany is a fast growing market and all Heinrichs stocks all the ‘big boys’ along with some smaller producers. The prices might make your eyes water when compared to the ‘regular’ German beer but it can definitely be worth it. International ales, beers, ciders and soft drinks (yes I mean Irn Bru and Snapple) are located near the end of the shop. If you need a taste of home, this is the place to go.

Oh and if you are looking for a particular beer glass (hello Christmas presents for all the relatives, souvenirs of time spent in Germany) you can find a large selection for sale here.

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The Details
– Heinrichs Super Getränke-Mart 3000 works in the same way as any other Getränke-Markt
– No membership required
– Bottles with Pfand (deposit) can be returned for cash
– International bottles do not usually have a Pfand

Location
Solitudeallee 127
D-70806 Kornwestheim

Opening hours
Mo-Sa: 8:00 – 20:00  (Closed on public holidays)

This post was not sponsored (but hey if Heinrich is interested in sending some free beer my way, I won’t say no). I just wanted to pass on some info about a place that has helped make my stay here a little easier and made a new home seem less daunting. Tastes of home are important. Happy drinking people!

Adopting a dog from the Tierheim

So as you may have seen, MrC and I adopted a dog from our local Tierheim (animal shelter) last October. Since we had no friends (German or non German, that we knew of) who had adopted an animal from a shelter here we did a lot of googling to find answers to our many, many, many questions. Putting bits and pieces together from wherever we could find them. So whilst I can’t give you a step by step of how this works in Germany, because it won’t work the same way everywhere. What I can give you is the benefit of our experience, based on adopting an older dog (not a puppy) from Ludwigsburg Tierheim.

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Do not expect the process to be short. We thought, more than once, maybe they just don’t want us to adopt him? There was no encouragement as such, it was down to us to follow up and chase the Tierheim, not the other way around. When we visited our local vet, he joked that it’s harder to adopt a dog from a Tierheim than a child, and don’t we all know that all the funniest jokes are based on the truth.

Get to know the Tierheim. They want to get to know you too. They were incredibly busy, especially on Saturdays, phone callers didn’t get a whole lot of information out of them because they simply did not have time. Anyone can volunteer as a dog walker (maybe a cat stroker too) but you do have to attend a 3-hour class first, don’t let that put you off it’s easy to get through and is a good confidence booster. Even younger kids (over 12) can volunteer, pretty perfect for a wannabe vet or an animal lover without a pet.

Visit early and/or in the week if you can. Like I said the Tierheim gets very busy. The queue for reception was constantly snaked around the room on Saturdays, patience is required.

Speaking German really helped. Nothing was in English, and it was commented on positively that we spoke German, so at least having a German speaker with you is probably a good idea. I also read a lot of stories of Americans (which we aren’t but to an untrained ear I suppose could be) being looked down on and not wanted as adopters, possibly due to previous experiences of pets being abandoned by military personnel. As a foreigner I didn’t feel that I was treated any differently, I wasn’t asked how long I’ve lived here or how long I intended to stay.

Do your research. Most Tierheim will have an online presence, this does not mean that their webpage will be up to date but it will give you an idea of what kind of animals they have and where they are sourced. Germany does not have a lot of strays, consequently a number of dogs (and cats) are transported in from Eastern Europe and Spain, where they are many. You can also approach organisations that do this directly, they usually speak decent English.

Costs will vary. For a house dog (not a guard or working dog) you can expect to pay 200-400 euro and it can depend on how long the dog has been there, medical care received, pedigree etc. Our boy came fully vaccinated, microchipped and with an EU passport, I’m not sure every dog will have a passport.

Be prepared. Get your basics sorted. The Tierheim offered to lend us a lead, collar and food bowls, we took them up on the collar and simply returned it once we had sourced him an alternative. The rest you should have in place, google dog adoption must haves and you will get plenty of ideas.

Ask your questions. German culture is reliant upon asking ‘the right’ question, there is little information offered besides answers, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to having to interrogate people in everyday situations, but it is simply ‘the way it is’. I have a feeling that the Tierheim thought that we were a little insane when we pulled out our list of questions, for us it was necessary. Always ask.

Dog insurance. Because well, this is Germany. Having a liability policy was compulsory before taking him home. Medical insurance though doesn’t seem big here.

Landlord Approved. If you are living in rented accommodation you must get it in writing that you have permission to have a dog living at your place. Our lease says ‘nach Vereinbarung’ so ‘by arrangement’, it was also on the property listing for our flat (our landlord allows small animals only) and the Tierheim had to see it.

Home Inspection. We got very stressed about this, probably unnecessarily, but it was our last hurdle and we desperately wanted to pass. We were actually visited by our prospective dogs’ trainer  so basically she just checked our place for safety, with our dog in mind. She also gave us some great tips about training and living with him, we really picked her brain and I’m so grateful that she was so nice in the face of our newbie enthusiasm.

Dog tax. When we went to register our dog with the city for dog tax, as you are legally obliged to do, we found out that for the first year, as a rescue dog, he is exempt, yes free dog tax for one full year. Whilst I can’t be sure that all councils will do the same, maybe yours does too? We also had a full 30 days in which to register him at the town hall.

It took us one month, from seeing a dog on the website to having that same dog curled up on our feet at home. It dragged and then it flew. We wouldn’t be without him and he’s settling into the family as well as we could have hoped.