Stella and I went to visit Meike and Wolfgang to day; Meike is a colleague of mine.
At first, we had problems getting there… the S3 was about six minutes late in Harburg, which is bad if you only have seven minutes to change in Neugraben.
We got into Neugraben at the time the next train was due to leave, but the sign said that the train would be two minutes late. We hoped that would give us enough time to rush up the stairs and buy tickets, but I couldn't figure out how to make the machine give us two return tickets at once. After three failed tries, I went down the stairs to see whether the train had arrived yet and saw that it had arrived and left again—I could see its back lights receding. Darn.
Fortunately, Stella had her mobile phone with her and so we called to say we'd be forty minutes later. This gave us time to buy the tickets we wanted and catch the next train.
We had a nice time with the two and could see how their little daughter Wiebke was doing, as well; she was born in January, so is about a month younger than my niece Emily.
Most of the time, we talked about things related to Wiebke: pregnancy, child rearing, birth, nursing, and so on. I was happy to hear that Meike was still breast-feeding Wiebke at six months (though she's started to add solid food at midday) and that she intended to continue doing so, since I'm rather in favour of women breast-feeding their children when they can. She also nursed Wiebke on the sofa a couple of times while we were there, without much fuss, which I also found good.
Meike had originally planned to return to work on the 15th of July or the 1st of August, but she said she got email from Andreas on the 20th telling her there was no work for her. I kind of thought that might have been the reason I haven't seen her back at work yet, and it's true: there are people who don't have a "proper" job at the moment (myself included). Meike said she could insist on being able to work part-time but, in practice, she'd probably be one of the people who are not working on a particular project and that wouldn't be too good.
She would like to go back to work but she says she'll wait and see what turns up in the next few months. She says she's skeptical, though; they've been telling us about possible big projects that we've "nearly won" for years and most of them never materialise. However, her maternity leave ends in Janury (a year after Wiebke's birth), as I understand it, and at that point she intends to go back to full-time work and the company will be obliged to offer her a full position.
We had supper with them, too: Wolfgang had cookied noodles with a zucchini sauce (hard to describe). It was pretty good.
We learned some interesting things about child rearing from Meike; things she said she was doing differently from, for example, her mother and why.
We left at around eight; Wolfgang drove us to the station. Unfortunately, the train was a quarter of an hour late (if I understood correctly, because of problems in the tracks due to the heat), but we got to Neugraben all right and managed to catch a connecting train fairly quickly. Got home about twenty minutes ago.