Thursday, 28 January 2010

More Snow and Quitting Smoking Again

This week has been much busier for me at work and I have not made it out before 6pm all week. I have still been having problems getting out of bed in the morning but this is more due to the fact that I am still struggling to sleep at night more than anything. Things are getting better, slowly, but it might be a while yet before I am into a really good routine. I actually managed to get up fairly early this morning and was in work for 8am but then I had a conference call with my boss and some other people so it was pretty important I was here for that! It just goes to show though that I can do it when I put my mind to it!

Having said that, I went to bed much earlier than normal last night and I was in bed shortly after 10pm. I felt tired before I went to bed but then felt awake again within five minutes! Luckily it didn’t take me too long to get to sleep and I think I must have been asleep by about 11pm. I have decided that I am not going out on the lash this weekend so I will be trying my best to be consistent in the times I am going to bed and getting up over the weekend. Hopefully by doing this it will make it easier for me next week and will help to establish a proper routine.

When I woke up this morning I was greeted by quite a lot of snow outside – it had snowed at the start of the week but it snowed again quite a bit overnight. As I was up so early when I took Roman for his morning walk most people had not been out to clear the paths so it was all snow where we were walking. It was nice to not have to worry about whether I would slip over or not and there is nothing quite so satisfying as the crunching of fresh snow underfoot! Roman seemed to enjoy it too and it seems to be so much better for his paw than normal.

I have not managed to get to football training this week as I have had to work late and I have a feeling that I am not going to make it tonight either. It’s a little frustrating to be honest but this is the nature of the work I do. One week I will have pretty much nothing to do yet the following week it will seem to be never ending! I think there is a training session or a match on Sunday morning though so I will definitely be there. I think I will walk Roman up to Kirschhausen for that so that he gets plenty of exercise over the weekend. He really gets spoilt for exercise on the weekends with our visits to the pub!

One of my work colleagues is trying to help me out at the moment in finding a way to pay less fees for Roman to be here. Apparently the colleague who originally called to enquire had spoken to someone in office here and they were given all of the official fees. I sit next to someone in work who has a Rhodesian ridgeback and her parents owned Rottweilers in the past so she has been trying to get some information for me. It turns out that there is a clause in the law about the permits that discounts dogs born before the legislation came in (January 2008) and Roman was born before this. Hopefully this will mean that I don’t have to have a permit, which would save me €275, but because he has been imported I might not be able to get around it.

Also, the character test might not be needed if I sign up for a dog club. At the dog clubs they meet weekly for dog training sessions and, after a period of time, the dogs are entered into an obedience contest. After this contest you are awarded a certificate depending on the number of points you score. As a part of the dog club membership (which I think is as little as €40 per year) I think you get the character test built in as such so that might also save me a lot of money. Fingers crossed on that one too but I guess I will find out for definite on these things once I find a dog club.

I stopped smoking again on Monday (my last cigarette was at about midday) and I have just passed the 72 hour mark. I am feeling a little more confident about it this time for a number of reasons. Having discovered I may have to pay extortionate amounts to keep Roman here I am aware that I might not have much disposable income so have a financial incentive. Also, I can’t afford to go and get wasted every weekend so I have decided to stick to coffee or cola when I go to the pub. Hopefully by not drinking alcohol I will not drop my guard as it is so easy to do after a few pints.

I have not really noticed any massive cravings so far but I have noticed from time to time that my jaw is extremely tightly shut – feel the tension!
I have also been thinking about coming back to England sometime in April and have managed to find flights from as little as €40 each way from Frankfurt to Manchester. As I will also need money to pay for that I have even more incentive not to smoke.

I would also like to go back to Rome either in July or August, more likely July though, so I will also need to be saving for that. I think if I can have enough incentives then maybe quitting smoking will be easier. When I have tried in the past I have not been able to see anything at the end of the tunnel, these things give me a tangible reason to quit

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Snow Is Back!

The snow is back here in Germany and I think Roman is delighted – he loves the snow! I woke up this morning to find a layer of about two inches of snow covering my garden. It’s quite surprising how well it has stuck as it had only been light snow throughout the night but it is much drier here in general than in England so maybe that is why. I am always a little tentative when walking Roman when there has been fresh snowfall as he is so strong and the slightest pull from him at the wrong time could well result in me going over and looking like a complete tool! I’m glad to say that this morning we had no such problems.

A work colleague had told me last week that the snow was on its way back but it just didn’t look likely until yesterday. I woke up pretty late (again), awoken by my new friend, Leonard, calling to ask if I wanted a lift to the pub because of the weather. I said no as I wanted to walk there with Roman so that he had plenty of exercise. We have been to the pub twice again this weekend and, each time we go, I am more and more impressed with him. He is such a friendly dog and I think most people have been surprised at how good natured he is. I hope that people who have a bad view of the breed alter their way of thinking after meeting Roman. I am sure that they do – he has an infectious enthusiasm that even the most stubborn, hard-faced person would struggle to discount.

Football training started again this week after the winter break so I walked Roman to Kirschhausen on Tuesday evening after work. It’s about three and a half kilometres to where we train so he had plenty of exercise that night. I had to tie him to a post next to the pitch whilst we trained and he was pretty funny. He barked a lot as we were running around the pitch. I think that he thought that I was going to leave him there! Hopefully, the more times we go the calmer he will become. All of the lads at football seemed to love him too which was good.

Football training was a little difficult after so many weeks of indulgence but I managed to get through the session alright. We ran for about 90 minutes so we must have done a fair amount of miles. I would guess that we had run close to 10 miles but it’s hard to say. After we had finished jogging we had a match for about 30 minutes. Roman went a bit barmy once the footballs came out – I always used to play football with him in England so I think he wanted to join in! Once football had finished we then had to walk the three and a half kilometres home.

By the time we got home I felt pretty knackered but it was hardly surprising really – I must have covered about 20 miles on Tuesday when you take into account the 2 and a half kilometre walk I have to work and back each day plus Roman’s morning walk of about 2 kilometres. When I woke up on Wednesday morning I was aching quite a bit and the walk to work was slightly less pleasant than normal! Still, no pain no gain as the saying goes. I should have had another training session on Thursday evening but I couldn’t make it due to work commitments.

Work has been pretty good since I got back and I have now been given some projects to work on which definitely helps me. It has been difficult to integrate properly here as I feel a little awkward approaching people at times. There is no employee map, if you like, so I am not sure what jobs everyone does and, furthermore, I am not sure who speaks English and who doesn’t which only serves to compact the difficulty. I feel that now I am being involved a bit more than I was before Christmas and it is looking extremely likely that I will be offered a more permanent contract soon.

I had to give a presentation to some of the senior management last week on a major project that I wanted to implement here and that seemed to go really well. Everyone was really impressed with the way that I spoke and the ideas that I had. I was quite nervous before it but once I got started it was pretty straightforward. The funny thing is that I never prepared in any way for it; I merely relied on what I knew and my natural charm! I have not really done this type of thing before but I found it much easier than I thought I would.

This week a lot of my friends here went to Mallorca for a few days from Thursday until Saturday so Friday was a pretty quiet affair. One of my friends, Guido, called me to ask if I wanted to meet him in the pub to watch the Freiburg – Stuttgart match but I had to decline. Roman’s paw has gone a little bad again so I wanted to take it easy with him for a few days. I can’t work out why it keeps happening but I have a feeling that the shape of his pads may mean that they rub against each other when he walks. I had a look to compare his paws and one definitely seems to have more of a protruding pad so maybe this is the reason. It may be that longer walks will always cause this to happen but I will keep my eye on it.

On Saturday I decided to take Roman up to the pub so that I could watch the football with my friends. Again he behaved impeccably whilst there and again he got absolutely spoilt with biscuits. I think it is fast becoming one of his favourite places to go! We were back there again yesterday evening to watch the Hoffenheim – Leverkusen match and there were a few funny occurrences! Mariana, the landlady, said that I didn’t have to make him lie down all the time and he could walk around freely. It’s nice to find such accepting people. Roman was in his element then constantly going between people for treats and strokes.

Mariana let him into the pool room for a few minutes so that he could have a sniff around and I made a joke saying that I hoped nobody came into the pub through that entrance. Yes, you guessed it, two minutes later somebody did in fact come in that way! I think the guy got a bit of a shock to be greeted by a 60kg Rottweiler on the loose but, once again, Roman was superb. He was excited to have a new friend and greeted him with the same enthusiasm he seems to show everybody! He followed the guy back into the main bar and, once again, resumed going up to everyone for strokes.

After the match had finished we had to walk all the way home again and it was still snowing and starting to stick a little. By the time we got home I was feeling a little tired so decided to run a nice hot bath and get something to eat before thinking about bed. I have been struggling to sleep recently and I think a lot of it is down to the exploits of the weekends. I was reading something on the internet that had loads of suggestions of how to make it easier to sleep so have been trying a few methods out. I went through the list of suggestions and found that I only do five of the things that it recommends but out of the other seven I think there are six that I can put into practice.

Saturday night was a bit of a crazy night, especially given the fact that I wanted to have a relatively quiet weekend! It was a friend’s birthday last week so he had organized a birthday party in Kirschhausen. The thing I love about birthday parties over here is that they lay on free booze and free food. Socially, it seems to be so much better over here than in England! I ended up drinking until about six in the morning with about six or seven of my friends and then headed home feeling a lot more drunk that I had planned on being!

When I got home I took Roman out for a three kilometre walk – I knew I would be asleep for a while and it is not fair on him to not be exercised and taken out to go to the toilet. I eventually got to bed at about half seven which is definitely not a good move when I am trying to establish a good sleep pattern! Still, I knew that the Saturday would be a wild one even if I had tried to deny it. I have decided that I want to cut down on the drinking and partying a fair bit; it seems a waste to spend all of my spare money like this and I know I could build up a nice pot of savings if I just chilled out a bit.

I had a bit of bad news this week also regarding Roman and the dog tax. I had been hoping to get away with paying about €70 per year but it turns out that this area of Germany classes Rottweilers as dangerous dogs so it becomes much more complex. I got a colleague to call the local authorities to get some information for me and have found out that it will cost me a lot more than that. It will cost me €72 per year for the license which is pretty much what I had expected but I will also need to do a few other things.

I have to apply for a permit for him which could cost as much as €275. Luckily this will last for four years so I will probably not even be in Germany when it comes to renewal time. Furthermore, Roman must also undergo a character test which, depending where I get it from, could cost anywhere between €150 and €300 but this must be approved by an expert here. I am hoping I can get it as cheaply as possible but if it costs me €300 then so be it. I will only have to get this done once but it is still a lot of money. I will also have to take a proficiency exam to demonstrate that I am capable of controlling him but I have been told that this will not cost very much at all.

In total I might have to spend as much as €700 in order for Roman to stay here! I wasn’t expecting the figure to be anywhere near that but if that’s the way it is then so be it. He is worth every penny and more so, whilst it is frustrating that such a friendly dog is subject to all this, I can grudgingly accept it and I guess measures such as these ensure that the rogues of society are less likely to try and keep a dangerous dog. I will also need to get a liability insurance policy for him but I have no idea how much this might cost.

So, given all of this unexpected expense I think that February will definitely be a tight month. If I have to pay out all of this in one go (I am hoping that some of it can be paid for at the end of February but I am not holding my breath) then I will probably have about €300 to live on for the month but I will also need to buy Roman’s food out of that. Even if I wanted to go out and get wasted I am pretty sure that I won’t have the finances to support it so it may be a blessing in disguise really.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Another Mad Weekend

Another weekend down, another beer fest! I think if I carry on at the rate I have been going during my time so far in Germany then I will end up needing a new liver at some point! On Friday evening Roman and I made our first trip to the Trio pub to watch the FC Bayern / Hoffenheim game. I’m delighted to say that Bayern won (pretty much everyone here hates Hoffenheim as they are a club solely based on finance and have effectively bought promotion from a much lower status). I was a little nervous about taking Roman to the pub to be honest as it is a totally new environment and the pub is normally quite rowdy when the football is on.

To be fair though I could not have been more impressed with him. He tried to run around the pub a couple of times but generally he behaved brilliantly. All of the locals seemed to take to him very quickly and he really enjoyed being the centre of attention. Ringo and Mariana (the owners) took to him very well and gave him several biscuits so he now watches them intently every time they move in the hope that they are going to get him more treats! He was a little excitable when the goals were scored but that has to be expected when a pub full of grown men are jumping around and cheering.

I am glad that it went so well at the pub as it is 3 miles from where I live so means that Roman has plenty of exercise whenever we go there. We went back on Saturday afternoon to watch the Bundesliga matches too - Germany’s equivalent of Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports is to flick between all of the games being played so you get to watch all of the matches in part. The crowds always seem to be packed at the games too so it seems that live screening in this way doesn’t have the negative effect on attendances that we seem to expect in England.

On Thursday evening I decided to put a few bets on but altered my strategy slightly. In the weeks leading up to Christmas I had been putting accumulators and trebles on but I was finding that the majority were losing. I was about €40 up at Christmas but there is something disenchanting about losing the majority of your bets even if you are in profit. I decided to start betting on single matches instead but at a slightly higher stake. Previously I was betting €3 or €5 on each accumulator but I decided to up the stake to €10.

I am pleased to say that all 4 of my bets from Thursday evening came in so my €40 outlay earned me just shy of €70. I used the winnings from Thursday and picked seven matches that were being played over the weekend, again laying €10 per match. I managed to pick 4 winners from the 7 so got back what I had laid out so I am currently about €30 in profit for the year. I am thinking that when the pot rises a little more I will focus on one or two games at a time and bet a higher stake, maybe €20 per match. If the pot diminishes then I will return to lower stakes. As long as I am in profit there is no ‘real’ loss so I can afford to be more liberal with the stakes although I will be careful to keep the betting money totally separate from my everyday finances.

I found a really useful thread on a forum where I post that focuses on betting. Some of the members there are extremely good at it and are already into thousands of pounds of profit for the year. Having said that though some of them lay up to 500 quid at a time so I am definitely small fish compared to that! There have been some pretty good tips flying about on there though and 2 of my original bets on Thursday came from these tips.
I made two trips to Apfelbaum again this week but I am thinking that I might start toning it down a little. I can afford the lifestyle I have quite comfortably – despite liberal spending over the festive period I still have about €500 of last month’s wages left and I get paid in about a week. However, I am not sure that continuing to live like this in the long term will be good and I am sure that there will come a point soon when I stop enjoying the nights out so much – moderation is key! It really doesn’t help when you are trying to adjust your routine so that you are up early every day in the week – I need 2 hours now before work really as I like to walk Roman a couple of miles before I start and by the time I have a shower and some breakfast then walk to work the 2 hours flies by.

On Saturday I headed up to Frankfurt to meet the lads as they had been to watch Frankfurt play. It was an enjoyable evening there and we got the last train back around midnight. The atmosphere around Frankfurt is actually pretty good and there were several decent pubs and bars. We were drinking around Sachsenhausen, an area I had been trying to find with my stepmother and her sister when they came to visit me last year. It seemed that we had been walking down the street that ran parallel to where all the activity was – bloody typical!

There was one bar that wasn’t such a great experience but I didn’t actually know until we had left – it seems that some people in there had been singing Hitler songs but I hadn’t noticed as I didn’t understand what they were singing. It’s a shame that there are still people like that around but this is certainly not reflective of my experiences of Germany as a whole. I have actually been impressed with the attitudes of people here in general. I find that German people tend to be very welcoming, friendly people and this is the first time I have experienced this kind of thing.

Sunday ended up being an extremely lazy day for me – I only ever seem to get about 5 or 6 hours sleep after a night out at Apfelbaum so I am usually pretty tired on Sundays. I didn’t feel ill or hungover but I had a distinct lack of energy all day long. Roman is such a perfect dog at times like this – he immediately knows that I am tired and just sleeps all day long. He didn’t get a walk until just after 5pm so he had been in the apartment for 24 hours without going out. I was pretty knackered last night so he didn’t get his usual pre bedtime walk either but he didn’t seem too bothered by it.

I managed to get up a little earlier today than last week – I got up shortly after 8am – but I want to start getting up at 6am so that I can be in work by 8am every day. If I can get into a good routine then I can work until 5pm Monday to Thursday and then only have to do 5 hours on a Friday so can finish at lunchtime. If I can do things this way then it will mean that I have more time with Roman over the weekend and he can get out and have plenty of exercise – I am sure he would be happy if I could manage to do it!

I should have had my first training session after Christmas with SV Kirschhausen yesterday morning but I didn’t get to sleep until about 7am yesterday so there was never any hope of me making that! There is a training session tomorrow evening at 7pm and another one Thursday so I will definitely be there for them. I think I need to cut out the partying at weekends though so that I am ready for the football each weekend! I am not sure how much fitness I have lost over the festive period but I am confident that I can regain it pretty quickly and I have been thinking about trying to quit smoking again – yes, I failed…….again!

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.