Thursday, 14 January 2010

Christmas and New Year

Well it’s been absolutely ages since I last updated my blog so apologies to all of my readers! I have been so busy over the past five weeks that I have had very little spare time and had just not managed to find any time to update. Things have been going very well for me lately (don’t they always though?) and I am very happy. Life in Germany has been treating me very well and I was lucky enough to be able to go back to the UK for Christmas to see my family and friends.

December was a very busy month socially for me as there seemed to be parties almost every Friday and Saturday night leading up to Christmas. There was another Christmas party at the football club, this time it took place in the changing rooms. It was a really good night and one of the guys had even brought a mini kebab and burgers for everyone to munch on. There was loads of free beer, Jagermeister, Bacardi and Jack Daniels floating about and I ended up pretty drunk by the end of the night. After the football party there was a house party for someone’s birthday that I went to and after that I ended up in the nightclub in Heppenheim until 6am!

There was also a winter party for the sports club as a whole where all of the members were present in the restaurant above the football pitch. I didn’t realise just how many members there were but there are football teams, table tennis teams and volleyball teams. There must have been well over 100 people there and it was a really fun atmosphere. The food in the restaurant was really good and, once more, I ended up a bit drunk! Fortunately, I wasn’t as drunk as Steffen who ended up on stage with the microphone calling me out so that he could “thank me on behalf of everyone for coming to Germany”! It was absolutely hilarious but I reckon it was probably one of those things you had to see.

Before Christmas my German was starting to improve quite a bit and I have been trying to converse more in German with the people I know to try and aid me in picking the language up. I reckon I might have forgotten a fair bit whilst I have been in the UK but once I start talking German again I am sure it will come back quite quickly. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to learn a new language when you have no classes and rely solely on conversation to pick it up. Still, I managed to pick up a fair bit of French and Italian whilst I was on my travels so I know it is only a matter of time until I am able to speak German fairly well.

There was a Christmas market in Kirschhausen too which was good fun. I am not sure many people really bought anything apart from alcohol and food! I am aware that the focus on food and beer seems to be becoming a theme in this blog but, honestly, it seems that a vast part of the culture in this area does in fact focus around these areas – either that or I have made friends with a load of food obsessed alcoholics! After the Christmas market I, yet again, ended up in Apfelbaum (the club here in Heppenheim) and was there until very late.

I came back to the UK on Christmas Eve and was a little worried that I would not be able to make it as Frankfurt airport, where I was flying from, had been shut for a couple of days earlier in the week. Also, Manchester airport, where I was flying to, had been closed around the same time for a day or two. Luckily, everything worked out well and my flight wasn’t even delayed. It would have been disastrous if the flight had been cancelled – I am well aware that I may not make it back to the UK next year for Christmas but I will have had chance to build up a decent network of friends and will hopefully be able to spend Christmas with someone here; I would have felt awkward having Christmas here as my German is not good enough to fully engage with everyone and I have only really known people for a couple of months.

I managed a few nights out whilst I was in the UK, firstly on Christmas Eve. I went out for drinks with my brother, Rich, and our friend, Nath, around Chester. We only stayed out for a few hours but even that was enough to get Nath wasted! Nath has never really been much of a drinker and it’s always a recipe for disaster when he comes out drinking with me as there are always lots of shots floating about! We were home by about 11.30pm and then Rich and I continued drinking Jack Daniels until about 1.30am before I headed home to get some sleep ready for Christmas Day. At one point in the evening we somehow found ourselves in the middle of a dance class of sorts – I found this very amusing and we sat there for about half an hour but I am pretty sure that Nath and Rich felt a bit uncomfortable in the situation!

Christmas, as always, was pretty good to me. I got an Armani chain of my mum and a few other little things, some money from my parents with a few little things and some vouchers for Scotts off my aunt and uncle. I put the vouchers towards a new Henri Lloyd coat that cost 80 quid and the money I got off my parents I put towards an Armani bracelet and some clothes shopping in Liverpool. All in all, I did pretty well and I am made up with the new things I have.

In between Christmas and New Year I went out with some old friends and ended up drinking triple black Sambucas. They were surprisingly easy to drink but, unsurprisingly, they also got me very drunk! I forgot where I was for a while and ended up getting chucked out of a nightclub for smoking – in Germany it is allowed in pubs and nightclubs; I must have been so drunk that I thought I was in Germany! I ended up having an argument with the doormen for about half an hour outside as they wouldn’t let me have my coat (yes, the one I had just paid 80 quid for!) but the police came along and sorted it out for me!

For New Year I met up with an old school friend who I had been playing football with for a while before I went on my travels, Ryan, and also another blast from the past, Kevin. I had told them that I wasn’t staying out late as I had been invited to a house party and I didn’t want to spend loads of money getting into a club and then loads of money on the drinks. We had a few drinks around Chester for a couple of hours around a few different bars before we parted company. They were trying to get me to go back to the nightclub I had been chucked out of but it was 25 quid entry and I didn’t fancy my chances anyway. I got them to agree to go thirds on my entry but, as soon as we got to the door, the doorman informed us that I was banned for life! Funny!

I had decided before I came back to England that I wanted to get a tattoo done before I headed back to Germany. I had had the idea in my mind for about six months but had been trying to work out where to have it done on my body. The tattoo is a philosophical statement from Marcus Aurelius – Nothing happens to any man which he is not fitted by nature to bear – and has been a favourite of mine for quite some time. I ended up getting it done in a fancy font on two lines sideways down my ribs on the right hand side of my body. It only cost me 40 quid so I was pretty made up with that. A lot of people had said that the ribs are really painful for having tattoos done but, personally, I didn’t think it was too bad at all. There were a couple of moments where it hurt a little but, other than that, it was just like anywhere else really.

All in all the festive period was a lot of fun for me and I also had a very interesting start to the New Year. I got to spend quite a bit of time with someone who I like a lot, and I have done for a very long time, and it made returning to Germany a little more difficult than it would have been. Still, I have made the decision to be here now and there is no way I am going back on that. I also plan to move to France, Spain and Italy over the next ten years so there is very little chance of anything substantial happening as I don’t intend to return to the UK on a permanent basis. It’s a shame that the timing was so bad really and, in another life, things could have been so different.

I went out with some family and friends to celebrate mine and Rich’s birthdays (they are 1 day apart with mine on the 5th January and Rich’s on the 6th). We went to the Mill Hotel in Chester – certainly not a place that we would normally go to but I fancied something a little different from the norm. It was actually very nice and, despite them seeming ever so slightly child-unfriendly, the evening went pretty well. There was a live singer on there and she was really good with the kids and helped immeasurably in keeping them entertained.

I have been back in Germany for a few days now and it’s almost like I have never been away. It’s surprising how quickly you get back into the swing of things really. Roman arrived here on Monday but there were some problems along the way. He behaved perfectly throughout – apparently he slept constantly during the journey and never made a sound and only woke up when it was time for him to be fed or walked. The guy who brought him over, Peter, seemed really impressed with him and said his wife had even walked him on the Sunday evening. I am glad that he is so well natured that pretty much anyone can immediately get along with him so well.

Roman was originally meant to be picked up at 10am on Sunday but Peter called on Saturday evening to ask if he could pick him up at about 1am instead as he was driving down from Scotland and he wanted to try and avoid the bad weather that was due to hit the midlands and south east on the Sunday so I ended up waiting up for him. Despite the 9 hour head start Roman didn’t arrive until about 9.30pm on Monday – he was meant to arrive early to mid afternoon so I had stayed at home to wait for him but the roads were so bad coming across Europe in parts that it took a lot longer. It was lucky that he had been picked up early as he probably would not have arrived until Tuesday otherwise and I had to be in work then!

I was a little worried about the flight I was catching back from Manchester as there were hints that there might be heavy snow on the Sunday and I was due to fly out at 6.25pm. Luckily, the worst weather that appeared was light snow showers and everything went pretty well. The flight was about 20 minutes late taking off but, other than that, everything went perfectly. When I arrived in Frankfurt my friend Steffen was waiting at the airport to drive me back to Heppenheim – he really is a top lad. I was also worried about checking in at Manchester as I was only allowed 20kg in the hold – the bag weighed close to 25kg due to all of the shopping I had done whilst over in England! Luckily the girl on the check in counter didn’t seem too bothered and I didn’t have to pay any extra.

Heppenheim has been covered by a blanket of snow most of this week but it seems to be beginning to melt at the moment. Luckily there is a big difference between Germany and England. In England it has been widely reported that if someone grits or clears the path outside and somebody has an accident then that person is liable to be sued – unbelievable! In Germany everybody, and I mean everybody, does this daily. Every morning people are clearing the paths and every evening they grit. As a result it is quite easy to get around here and I have been able to walk Roman 3 times a day without fearing for my life if he decides to pull.

Roman seems to be enjoying life here so far and I can’t wait for the weekend so that I can walk him up to Kirschhausen to meet the gang. I am hopeful that the pub that I frequent, the Trio, will allow him in as we often watch all of the football on a weekend and it would provide both a good chance for exercise and also a chance for more socialization around people. He gets on very well with most people but it is always nice to get him used to new situations and a lively pub is one that he is yet to experience. Normally in a lively environment he is lively too but I would like to be able to go somewhere lively and for him to be calm so it would be good if he is allowed to go.

I also bought a Liverpool scarf whilst I was in England as I had promised to bring one back to put up in the pub. I managed to find a “This is Anfield” scarf so I am hoping to put it up above the door or somewhere similar so that I can touch it on the way in akin to the way the players and Rafa do on their way out for a game. I had hoped to bring a couple of football shirts back for people too but they never gave me any money before I went to England and I managed to spend all of the €1000 I had brought over plus all of the Christmas and birthday money I got!

Yesterday was an extremely busy day for me at work. As is often the case in this business you can be sat around with little to do and something really important will pop up suddenly that needs to be completed the same day. This exact thing happened yesterday and I didn’t leave the office until 8pm! Once home I gave Roman a quick walk and then ended up working until 11pm at home in order to get it done in time. I don’t mind this though; as I say there have been times where I have had very little to do and the working week has been shorter than normal as a result. You have to take the rough with the smooth.

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