Monday, 22 February 2010

I'm Gonna Drink One More Than You.....

Well it has been another busy fortnight hence me not updating my blog for so long. With working full time, walking Roman so much and general constant partying it can sometimes be difficult to find the time to spend to update so I must apologise to anyone who is reading and hoping for more regular updates. These last two weeks, especially, have been full of parties including a big carnival called Fasching and a pretty much all weekend session in Hamburg.

Two weekends ago it was Fasching here in Germany and this generally means that everyone takes extra days off work around the weekend to dress up like idiots and get completely and utterly wasted. I didn’t dress up as I don’t really have any costumes to wear but I did adhere to the second rule quite spectacularly! On the Saturday I headed up to the pub as usual with Roman to watch the football before taking him home for his tea. Once Roman was sorted I had to walk back to Kirschhausen (I did some walking that day!) to meet up with all of my friends and head to the restaurant in the village for a crazy night of partying.

There were some really cool outfits on display and I managed to get a few of my friends to let me try on some of their props so there are now some really stupid photos of me on there for you all to laugh at in the Deutschland album. The partying went on pretty much all the night and I headed off home at about 3am as I was offered a lift and thought that was a better prospect than having to walk home! Once home, as I often do, I took Roman for a 3km walk as I hate leaving him for so long and him not being able to go out to the toilet. Yes, I am selfish for going out and leaving him whilst I party but at least I have the decency to walk him when I get back – even if it is sideways!

I finally got to bed sometime around 4am but wasn’t there for that long as the Sunday would be the main day of partying over the whole weekend. I got up at around 10am and arranged to meet Steffen and the others at around lunchtime in Heppenheim. I decided to take Roman for a walk before I went out so that he didn’t go crazy and then joined the others for the drinking to commence. To be fair, I still felt a little drunk from the night before after having drunk countless shots of spirits – don’t ask me what they were as I have no idea! – so I decided to pace myself a little in the first half of the day. The parade that came through the town was quite fun and they chucked loads of free treats into the crowd. At one point they even fired beer out of a hose over everybody and I got soaked – if I had known I would have opened my mouth to try and catch some!

After the parade had finished we all went to a couple of bars but everywhere was so busy so I decided to head home for a couple of hours so that I could have something to eat and freshen up. I also wanted to give Roman another decent walk so he didn’t feel like he had been abandoned. I do feel guilty for leaving him at times but if I walk him plenty I suppose its ok, right? I think I am lucky to be fair though as he is such an easy dog to own in that respect. When I am not walking him he pretty much sleeps constantly. Sometimes I think he has the perfect life – no stress, plenty of exercise, no job, free food and copious amounts of sleep. Sounds like bliss doesn’t it?

I headed out to meet up with Steffen and Nathalie just before 8pm and they were already in Apfelbaum so I went straight there. It was really busy there, as expected, and I had to queue up for about ten minutes to get in. By 9pm Steffen was pretty much ready to go home as he had not paced himself at all throughout the day and was completely and utterly smashed! He bought 10 glasses of cola apfelwein (you get it cheaper like that) and by the time he had drunk one Nathalie had drunk two and I had finished the rest off! We decided to get some food in the restaurant upstairs and that proved to be a pretty amusing experience.

When we got up to the restaurant it was pretty full and there was nowhere really for us to sit. Steffen decided to sit down with a table of girls whilst myself and Nathalie managed to get a couple of seats by the bar. We ordered our food and then proceeded to laugh at Steffen’s drunkenness. He had one of the girls sat on his lap, although he didn’t know them as far as I could see, and was singing Frankfurt football songs quite loudly – not exactly what you want if you are sitting down to eat! The food came for me and Nathalie and Steffen hadn’t even ordered his. He was trying to get us to go and sit down by a table but there wasn’t enough space there as there was already a couple sat eating. He decided to sit down with them anyway and started singing his football songs again!

I found the whole thing quite amusing and there were a couple of lads by the bar who were also laughing but the staff there didn’t seem to happy and I can’t even imagine what the poor couple who he had plonked himself down by were thinking – all I can say is that I hope they weren’t trying to eat in a romantic atmosphere as it would have been completely spoilt! Steffen eventually came back to the bar and ordered himself a pizza – it’s probably worth mentioning that before we had headed into the restaurant Steffen had just been to the toilets to be sick as he was so drunk. Whilst he was waiting for his pizza he decided to have a little sleep on the bar, much to the annoyance of the staff.

When his pizza did eventually come he managed to eat one slice before falling asleep on the bar again and I had to finish it off for him as he said he wanted to be sick again. After falling asleep again he finally realized that he had had far too much to drink and said that he was going to go home. Steffen is a top lad, I would say my best mate here in Germany by a long way, but he can be hard work when he is so drunk! At least he helps to provide an atmosphere though – much better than standing by a speaker looking at your feet!

Once he had gone my drinking session started and boy did I do a good job! After another round of cola apfelweins I decided to start on the Jack Daniels and tequila. Anyone who goes drinking with me knows what I am like on spirits – especially tequila and sambuca – but I really did myself proud that night. By the time I left at about 5am I had spent over 150€ on alcohol and was a little bit tipsy to say the least. I lost count of the number of drinks I had but in the three separate bars about five or six of the staff knew exactly what I was drinking every time I headed back to the bar so I must have had a lot!

Once more I walked Roman when I got home although I don’t really remember doing it but my Facebook status update told me I did and there was a 30 minute gap in activity – it normally takes me about 25 minutes to walk him so this seemed feasible! I was very glad that I had decided to book the Monday off work as, when I woke up, I felt a little delicate. It’s times like these that owning a Rottweiler really becomes difficult – if I had a small dog then a two minute walk around the block at a gentle pace would be quite enough but Roman needs about an hour a day at a quick pace so it makes it really hard when you have a major hangover. Still, that’s the responsibility I took on when I got him so it’s just something I have to do.

The rest of the week was pretty much just all work as I didn’t really go out through the week. It took me until Wednesday to really recover from the exploits of that weekend and before I knew it the week was over and another weekend was upon me. On Friday I finished at 1pm and Steffen picked me up from work so we could pop to the bookies and put a couple of bets on. I decided to stay home after that though as another friend, Leonard, had called me on the Thursday night to say he had a spare ticket for the Hamburg – Frankfurt game for the Saturday if I was interested in going. Hamburg is about 600km away from Heppenheim so we had to be picked up by a coach at 6.15am on Saturday so I wanted to get as early a night as possible.

The Saturday this weekend was all sorts of crazy and was something that I don’t think I could do every weekend – even if I am not far off that anyway at the moment! Steffen had kindly agreed to look after Roman for me whilst I was in Hamburg so, after feeding and walking him at 5.30am, I headed off to meet up with the coach. By 6.22am I was already drinking cola apfelwein and by 10am both myself and Leonard had already put seven or eight cans away. We stopped at a motorway service station to get a bite to eat so I bought a small bottle of J├Ągermeister to spice things up a little. By the time we got to the stadium in Hamburg just before 3pm I think a fair few of us were quite drunk!

On the journey they were playing all kinds of crap music – Germans seem to love crap music! – so I managed to get them to hook my iPod up to the stereo so I could give them a lesson in the merits of Dizzee Rascal. It went down quite well and there was certainly a bit of a party taking place on the back of the coach! I got on really well with everybody on the coach and I think I have made a fair few more friends this weekend. I am not sure when I will be able to go to an away game again – it’s not fair to ask other people to look after Roman too often and I would feel bad on him too – but I think it will certainly be another enjoyable experience.

The game itself wasn’t exactly the most exciting as the two teams played out a 0-0 draw but this was a good result for Frankfurt as Hamburg are flying high in the league and are in the top 4. I wasn’t really too impressed with Hamburg as they didn’t create many chances and Frankfurt looked to be the better side if anything. During the game we goaded a few of the home fans through the fence which was quite funny as about five or six of them got thrown out for trying to climb over the fence to get to us – idiots! There is only ever going to be one outcome when things like that happen but it was funny to see them behaving like that!

After the game we had to get a bus, then a train then another train to get into St Pauli’s party district. Luckily, the St Pauli firm had agreed to let Frankfurt have their pub and they had ordered in a load of apfelwein to keep the party going. We partied in there until almost 1am before we had to head back to the coach to go home. Leonard was completely smashed and turned down all my offers of tequila, apart from when we found a 99 cent bar, and he was sick when we were walking back to the coach. The youth of today, they just can’t keep up! We managed to find the coach – don’t ask me how! – and had about ten minutes to spare before we had to leave.

The journey home took about 9 hours and I managed to sleep from about 2am until about 6am before we started drinking again. More apfelwein flowed and Leonard cracked out his bottle of Vodka schnapps – I don’t know why but I was the only one who seemed prepared to drink it! By the time we got back to Heppenheim just after 9am I was pretty drunk again and also pretty tired but I had a massive craving for a McDonald’s breakfast – I haven’t had one in months and there’s nothing like a crazed drinking session to make you want crap food! After we had eaten some breakfast – I had a sausage and egg muffin meal and a bacon and egg muffin (bacon ones are crap but I hadn’t had one for years so thought I would remind myself what they were like) – we all went our separate ways home.

I arrived home at 10am and was yet again greeted by a very happy Roman. I decided to not even sit down after feeding him and instead put his lead on him so that I could take him for a walk. It was bloody hard work although Roman was really good and walked right by my side all the way without really needing to be told. I think he picks up on my general wellbeing quite well as he never seems to give me problems when I am a little worse for wear! It was no fun picking his poo up yesterday morning either but that’s another one of the responsibilities you must take on when owning a dog!

Once I was home I decided to have a bit of a mong day and put The Wire on using my iMac. I managed to watch three episodes before falling asleep for a few hours until 6pm. Once I woke up I fed Roman again and took him for another walk before deciding to cook myself some tea to help my stomach to not feel so empty! I managed to eat a full meal then a yoghurt and then a bowl of cereal too. After that I couldn’t really be bothered cooking again so I left it at that. I watched another five or six episodes of The Wire before deciding to go to bed at around 2am. I had to be in work this morning and had already decided I wouldn’t start until about 10am so I didn’t get up until about 9am today. It was harder work than normal…..

Monday, 8 February 2010

I Ordered A Guitar This Week

Well I failed miserably this weekend at the not smoking thing – yes, Saturday night saw me smoking again although I have not smoked since. I am a little disappointed to be honest and this was partly the reason I wanted to not drink for a month but I couldn’t really say no to a friend’s birthday party! Next week there is a big carnival type party going on in Heppenheim but I am hoping that I will be able to get through next weekend a little better. Still, it is not a bad effort so far – if you ignore Saturday night’s indiscretion then I have now gone a full two weeks. It is important than I somehow manage to break through the barrier when drinking though as if I smoke every time I drink then I will never ever fully quit.

Last week was a little boring to be honest and not a lot really happened as I had locked myself away in an effort to avoid cigarettes as much as possible. The evenings were all spent at home with Roman and, apart from our walks, I never went out at all really. On Friday I finished at 1pm again as I had worked longer hours in the week and I had a few things to do on Friday. Steffen came to the MediaMarkt with me next to where I work so that I could try and get an internet deal sorted. I have the dongle from work but sometimes it can be a little slow.

I managed to find a pretty good deal with a fast connection. For 30€ a month I will get the internet connection, phone line connection, free calls to landlines, free calls to o2 mobile phones and I can cancel at any time by giving one month’s notice. I was also delighted to see that there was a bolt on for unlimited international calls to certain countries for just 4€ per month so I have asked them to put that on too. When you compare the price I got to the original conversion rate between pounds and Euros it works out to be about 20 quid a month for the lot so it is pretty cheap really. I think it will be a week or two before I am connected with them so I will have to stick to using the dongle for the mean time.

On Friday evening I was invited to the pub again to watch the football but I decided not to go again. It is nice to just relax on a Friday evening after the week at work. On Saturday, as always, I took Roman up to the pub to watch all the football and then we jogged home afterwards so that I could get ready to go to Domi’s birthday party. I only had about an hour to spare but that was enough time to get showered, shaved and iron some clothes to wear for the night. It turned out in the end that Domi’s party was a fancy dress party – I think Steffen had told me ages ago but I hadn’t remembered and nobody had mentioned it since. Luckily I wasn’t the only one there who was not in fancy dress so it wasn’t too bad.

I met Domi’s girlfriend for the first time on Saturday – I said to him at the time that I had been in Germany for 3 months now and was only just meeting his girlfriend now! I had never really thought about it before but he has a pretty decent social life really as he is constantly out with all the lads and he never brings his girlfriend. I guess they prefer to spend time together away from everyone else. I am not sure whether this is the norm here in Germany but most of my friends here seem to be single so there is not really a lot for me to compare them to!

Steffen rang the dog training place for me on Friday to see if there was any way I could get in there with Roman and hopefully save on some of the fees but they seemed to want him to have had his character test and suchlike done before we go to the club! It looks like I may well have to pay the full whack to keep Roman here but I am hoping to get around the permit issue as this is only in place for dogs born after the law came into place. Roman was born before but I am not sure whether there are different rules for imported dogs. I am hoping to speak with the relevant people sometime this week, probably Friday, so that I can get it sorted once and for all. I just hope it doesn’t cost me as much as I think it is going to cost!

I will also be looking for cheap flights back to the UK for April this week as I want to come back for a few days to see everyone. It looks like it will be the end of April at the moment but there are a couple of bank holidays at the start of April which would give me the same amount of time in the UK but with fewer holidays taken. I have a feeling I won’t be able to do it then but I will have to speak with Steffen first to see when he is available to look after Roman – yes, he agreed to look after him while I come back to the UK! I have fallen lucky with the friends I have made here I think.

I finally ordered a guitar last week too! It turns out that I can order things off the internet but things work a little differently here if you don’t have a debit or credit card. I had to select the pre payment option and then take the bank account details of the company with me to the bank and make a payment to them using the cash machines! It is a bit of a pain that I can’t simply make the payment online but at least now I know I can order things off the internet.

I am really looking forward to having a guitar again and can’t wait to get practising! Hopefully it might have arrived today but it is more likely I will get it tomorrow or the day after. It would probably be better if it arrived either tomorrow or Wednesday though as I need to do some cleaning tonight and if the guitar had arrived then I wouldn’t want to do it! I could also do with an early night tonight as I only got about 6 hours sleep again last night. Weekends are so bad for me…

Monday, 1 February 2010

A Quiet Weekend, For A Change

Well, I will start off with the good news today – it has been a whole week and I still have not touched a cigarette! It has actually been a lot easier than I had expected it to be but I think the decision that I made to steer clear of alcohol for a while has certainly had a big influence. Although I have had several urges and cravings for cigarettes whilst in the vicinity of people smoking I have been much better equipped to deal with it this time as I have been completely in control of myself mentally and have therefore not dropped my guard at any time. I must admit though that I have probably not been as good conversation as usual at times!

Thursday night was indeed a later finish than usual so, as predicted, I could not make it to training again. I must admit I am a little frustrated to have not been to training in almost two weeks and there is a chance that I might not train tomorrow – I was told today that there is a really bad weather front coming again from Siberia and the snow will be at its worst since a really bad storm back in 1978! If this is the case then I think it would be very difficult for me to make it to training, if it is even on. Before Christmas I could just get a lift but now that Roman is here I have to take him into consideration. If the weather is as bad as predicted then it would take me forever to walk to Kirschhausen and then the same to get back!

This weekend has been a pretty quiet one for me really due to my decision to not drink. I am going to try not to drink through the whole of February as I think that it will really help me to quit smoking once and for all. I was invited up to the pub on Friday night to watch Hamburg play against Wolfsburg, which finished 1-1 incidentally. I decided to say no as the match didn’t kick off until 8.30pm which would have meant that I would have been walking home with Roman at about 10.30pm. I have to walk through some very dark stretches of road to get home and, given the icy conditions, I prefer not to be out too late – it can be treacherous enough when I can see where I am going!

I finished work pretty early on Friday at about 1.30pm and, as promised, I went home to collect Roman and walked him back to where I work so some of my colleagues could meet him. I think they all liked him although a couple of people were obviously a little intimidated by his size! Roman loves the attention though and, once more, behaved really well for the new crowd. We stuck around for about 10 minutes before heading off back home and I think Roman was pleased with his unexpected 5km mid afternoon walk.

I used the majority of my Friday evening in to catch up on some Football Manager. I have been so busy since I have been back in Germany that I had hardly touched the game since I got back – not like me at all! It was a nice quiet evening really although I spent the majority of it, strangely, craving a cigarette. I have no idea where it came from but I couldn’t shift it from my mind all night! My dad has a theory about associations – when you finish a meal, when you take the dog for a walk and other times you would typically smoke. He reckons the key is to alter the routine slightly so that you no longer have the association. Easier said than done! Still, I didn’t give in so another small battle in the mental war was won!

Saturday was the first real test for me with regards to giving up smoking. I had spent the majority of the week either working, walking Roman or locked away at home. As a result I had come into very little contact with cigarettes. On Saturday, as we do every weekend now, we went to the pub to watch the football for the afternoon. It was my first chance to test my resolve around people who would be smoking. I have to say, it was pretty difficult and I felt pretty tense for the whole of the time we were there. I was originally going to stay for the evening match but decided that I would go home so that I could get away from the smoke as I didn’t feel like I was very good company – I hardly said a word all afternoon as I battled away with my own mind!

To take my mind off it on Saturday evening I decided to cook a massive Bolognese. It is said that keeping your hands busy is very important when giving up smoking so the preparation and cooking certainly helped to pass a little time. I cooked loads so I had some left over for yesterday too – I always do this as it makes it so much simpler for the following day! I am going to try and get hold of some plastic tubs this week so that I can cook huge pans full and then freeze portions separately to make life easier. It would also help on days when I have football training as I would be able to have a proper meal for lunch as I don’t normally get to eat until about 10pm when I train.

I took a few photos on my way back from the pub using my camera phone so that I could upload them to Facebook so there are now some more shots of Heppenheim and Kirschhausen covered in snow. It is such a pretty place, especially in the snow. As we were watching the football it had begun to snow and by the time we left the pub there had been another few inches of snow fall. It seems like there will be no end to the snow this winter here in Germany and I for one am making the most of it and really enjoying it. I have been assured it’s not always like this so I guess I have fallen pretty lucky in my first winter here!

I also had some fun with Roman as we walked back making snow balls and throwing them in the air for him to catch. I am sure the motorists passing by thought I was crazy! It must have taken almost an hour to get home on Saturday when it usually only takes 35 minutes! Roman really enjoyed himself and was very excited; he almost pulled me over a few times when I was throwing snow balls – if only we could have been in a field so that I could have let him off the lead! I reckon he would have a brilliant time in the snow if he could run around but I just don’t know any fields where I can take him and let him off.

I now have an even bigger urge to buy a guitar and am determined to sort something out this week. I think the nearest place to buy one is in the next town but I can only get there if I catch a train or if one of my friends drives me there. I have managed to find a website though where I can get an acoustic cheap enough so I will ask one of my friends to order it for me and I will pay them. It is a pain in the arse not having a card that I can pay for things on the internet with and I will have to get that sorted out at some point in the future.

One of my Facebook friends has recently acquired a guitar so a lot of their statuses this weekend have been about that. I have been sending a few links to her of guitar tutorials on YouTube for songs I reckon she would like (and she has so far) and she has sent me a couple back. Even though we only communicate through text over the internet I can tell how excited she is to be learning to play and it has made me want to get back into it even more. I reckon that it could really help me to avoid cigarettes too as my fingers will be constantly busy if I take it up again!

Yesterday we spent the majority of the afternoon in the pub again as there were two matches that I wanted to watch. The first, at 3.30pm, was Stuttgart against Dortmund. Dortmund have been excellent this season and Stuttgart recently sacked Markus Babbel after an awful start to the season. I said as soon as he was sacked that they would immediately go on a good run and they have; they followed it up yesterday with a 4-1 victory. The 5.30pm kick off was Leverkusen against Freiburg. Leverkusen have looked really good this season and currently sit at the top of the Bundesliga whilst Freiburg have really been struggling and look like they could well go down. Leverkusen won 3-1 and Hyypia managed to bag a goal!

Yesterday evening was a pretty quiet one really. I was going to play a bit more Football Manager but decided to watch a film instead. I watched This Is England and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had seen it before but only once and I always find that a second viewing of a film, especially one like this, often makes you think about things a little more deeply. The first time I saw it I felt that it all seemed a little awkward in terms of the acting but this time I enjoyed it more. It’s a very powerful film really and bears a lot of relevance to current events in England I think.

I had a bit of a lie in this morning and didn’t start work until about 10am so I will be working until at least 6pm this evening. If I can do enough hours each week from Monday to Thursday then it means I can have an early finish on a Friday and have more of a weekend with Roman so that is what I am trying to do. It also makes it easier to do things as the shops are all shut on a Sunday here so I only have Saturday to sort stuff out if I work all day on a Friday. Hopefully I will be able to get up at 6am for the rest of this week so that I don’t have to work later.