End of part one.

Today we move into our new, temporary home. For the very last time in our lives, home will be where the army sends us.

So the blog will be on pause until we get sorted out and figure out our next move.

Thankyou all for reading part one. Please bear with me, this is a temporary break and I will be back for part two as soon as I can…

out for a spell

Auf wiedersehen Deutschland!

bielefeld

I have been asked would I change that we came to Germany if I could, because if we hadn’t come here the hubster would not have been injured. Maybe not, but he would still have gone to Afghanistan at some point and things may have been much worse. Who knows? And really, what is the point in thinking of it in that respect? It can never be changed. We have had a fantastic life in Germany and will truly miss this beautiful country and all it has taught us.

On 12th October 2008 with our trusty SFD and DinoBoy about to turn 3, we arrived in the country that was to become home. Since we met, the hubster and I had always hoped for an overseas posting and our wish had been granted. We both knew that this would be the start of a completely new life for us. One that was much richer in so many ways than the one we’d left behind and one that we welcomed with open arms.

It may have been October but it was still a warm and muggy evening when we arrived at the hotel we were to stay at before marching into our new married quarter a few days later. We wandered around Gutersloh taking in our new surroundings and sampled our first “gyros” (a type of kebab that blows away the sad old donner meat you get in England) and walked the SFD through the nearby park. I think it was the first time we had felt truly happy in our surroundings in such a long time and we knew that Germany was going to be good for us. We shared a feeling of optimism and anticipation.

In January of 2009 I fell pregnant with Miss Tinks and when she was 5 months old we had our happy little accident and found out I was pregnant with Zoom.

We arrived in Germany as three (and the SFD)…

three

…and we leave almost six years later as five (and the SFD -older, but still our faithful friend).

five

And were not wrong, Germany has been absolutely wonderful to us. We have made lifelong friends and life affirming decisions. The Dandelions have had an idyllic start in life thanks to this country, one that we could not have given them in England.

dandelions and sfd

And as we cross the bridge that takes us a step closer to the end of the forces chapter of our lives, we will carry with us the lessons Germany has taught us and cherish the memories forever.

troll bridge

Tschuss!

Things I will miss about Germany…

One week today we leave Germany. And although they have many weird and wonderful traditions, customs and foods, there are many more that I will miss.

In Germany you can find a bakery on every corner, even within some larger department stores. Germans love their baked goods and who can blame them, they are pretty damn good at it?

These bad boys are called Laugenknotten, they are a kind of pretzel type dough, but chewier and not salty and without the crunch. I will admit to a slight addiction and fully intend to eat my body weight in them before we leave.

 

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You have probably read my ravings about the garlic mushrooms you get at the fairs here. Another wonderful German delicacy and try as we might, the hubster and I have not managed to recreate them…yet. Although he does have a German Aunty who I intend to tap up when we get back to England, she tells me she doesn’t know the secret but I feel she may be holding out on me.

 

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Rot Kohl or pickled red cabbage is another food stuff we will miss. It’s entirely different to our version of red cabbage (incidentally, my Nana makes the best English pickled red cabbage in the world!). Rot Kohl is not crunchy and quite sweet tasting rather than the sharpness of our pickles. Over here they heat it and eat it as an accompaniment to meat dishes. It goes fabulously well with a roast beef dinner or sausage and mash. But, we have found, works just as well in a salad.

 

rot kohl

 

I could go on, there are the ice cream parlours on the corners that don’t have bakeries, the currywurst stands, the gluhwein at Christmas, the strawberries that are the sweetest I have ever tasted, the gingerbread and apfelkuchen.

But apart from food, the wonderful sense of family the Germans have is something I have never experienced in the UK, I have seen it all over Europe, but never in England. Children are welcome wherever you go here and a noisy or over zealous child is always seen as a pleasure- a child merely being a child, never a nuisance. People stop on the street and tell what beautiful children you have, in England we would find that weird, but there is almost a sense of innocence here that allows it as the norm and no harm or potential weirdness is meant.

To begin with I struggled with no Sunday shopping, I mean what else is there to do on a Sunday but wander aimlessly around B&Q buying things we don’t really need? But I have learned to appreciate the fact that Sundays are meant for spending time with eachother, relaxing and enjoying our time together.

And finally, one word~ Christmas! The entire season is just magical over here. Whether young or old they embrace the festivities and have not given in to the commercialism in the way we seem to have done. There is a feeling of magic in the air from the end of November until well into January. We have encountered some lovely traditions over here that we will carry with us and we shall definitely do our best to keep that Christmas magic alive in our celebrations wherever we live.

With our forces gradually being brought back from Germany over the next few years the chances of a posting here are becoming slim, but to anyone who has never visited this beautiful country, I urge you to put it on your list.

Moving day musings…

8366dummy

You would think after 12 years of being an army wife I would have this moving thing down right? Erm, nope! I am wandering from room to room muttering under my breath about dummies and Top Gear. I have found myself following some very, shall we say, odd chains of thought.

Here, have a peek into the mind of an army wife who has received her posting order, been given three weeks to move and had her husband sent away on a course for two of those (perfectly normal occurrence in this life by the way) …

Do I pack the bedrooms or the living room up first? (Well, we had to begin somewhat sensibly.)

Why do we have so many champagne flutes? (Seriously, we have like 7 sets! And much as I might like to consume that much champagne, I really don’t- at least not every day.)

Why can people in soap operas move to a new city or country and fit all their worldly belongings in the back of a black cab?

 

untitled

 

I know for a fact that there are several “missing” dummies belonging to all three Dandelions in here somewhere so, how come while I have been packing up this place, haven’t I found one single dummy?

Do we have a dummy monster hiding in the back of a wardrobe somewhere?

Do we have a dummy abyss? Maybe behind the toilet?

Have all the dummies fallen through a time vortex into another realm?

Has Doctor Who been in and taken all the dummies?

Are dummies actually evil aliens trying to take over the universe?

Why am I obsessing about dummies?

And why didn’t The Doctor take me with him?

And where did he put the TARDIS?

 

881-NB-The-Tardis

 

Oooh, where would we go? (Cue an afternoon of fantasizing about the kind of planets that could exist and the adventures I could have as a companion, but that’s another post)

Am I losing the plot?

Who would have thought I could build such a fantastic cardboard box wall? (Seriously, Jeremy Clarkson and Co would love to drive very fast vehicles at my cardboard box wall. Infact, in true Top Gear fashion, I may throw a caravan at it before tying it precariously to the top of a three wheeled van (purchased from Ebay) and drive to India).

thCAYX72UH

 

So, to conclude, it is seriously damaging to your mental well being to marry a soldier and move house every three years!

 

 

Send in the clowns (German Karneval)

Today in Germany, seemingly for no particular reason other than they can, women take to the streets dressed as all kinds of crazy characters (mostly clowns, which I find terrifying) and run around with scissors cutting off men’s ties, they can then kiss the man whose tie they have cut off. The men then tend to go off and slosh bier steins together.

 

karneval 2

 

This is Weiberfastnacht also known as Old Crone’s Day or simply Women’s Day and it marks the beginning of five days of absolute craziness called Karneval.

The “Old Crones” cause havoc in the towns stripping men of their “manhood” (ties) and storming the Town Hall to eject the mayor (not forgetting to cut off his tie) from office for the duration of Karneval so that the women can rule, while the mayor goes off to slosh bier steins together. The women continue to wreak havoc and slosh a few bier steins of their own together.

 

bier stien

 

School children go to school in fancy dress and spend the day playing tricks on eachother. Older children finish school early for the day and head into town with the adults to join in the merriment and slosh bier steins together. They arrive home in the afternoon attempting to disguise the fact they have been sloshing bier steins together, usually very successfully since their parents have been sloshing bier steins together for most of the day too.

It’s origins? Karnival celebrations stem from various beliefs. For catholics, it symbolises a festive season of food and fun before the fasting period of Lent  begins.

In pre-Christian times, karnival celebrations represented the driving out of winter and all of its evil spirits. Hence the masks to “scare” away these spirits. The karnival celebrations in southern Germany and Switzerland reflect these traditions.

Further karnival traditions can be traced back to historical events. After the French Revolution, the French took over Rhineland. Out of protest against French oppression, Germans from Cologne and nearby areas would mock their politicians and leaders safely from behind masks during carnival season. In some places today, caricatures of politicians and other personalities can be seen portrayed on floats in the parades.

The entire festival actually begins on November 11th at 11am when the “Council of Eleven” comes together to plan the events for the upcoming festivities. It tends to go dormant over Christmas before beginning again on the Thursday before lent, with parties and celebrations and much sloshing of bier steins together over the weekend and then culminating on “Rosenmontag” (Rose Monday- the Monday before Ash Wednesday), with parades throughout the towns. Yet more clowns and sloshing of bier steins together!

 

karneval

 

Karneval, in a nutshell, from what I have gathered over the six years we have been in Germany, is generally an excuse to partake in that great German tradition of sloshing bier steins together and go berserk for five days before abstaining for lent.

 

sloshing bier stein (2)

 

Prost!

The Escape

Solitude. Peace, quiet, calm. Time to let her thoughts wander, take her to far off places and allow her to escape for a while. Just a little while, just a short time. A few hours, maybe even a day away from it all. Some time for herself to do whatever she pleased, when it wouldn’t matter if she chose to do nothing at all for an entire day. That one day to re-group maybe even sleep, and then she would be happy to get back into the swing of life. Her non-stop, hectic life where she was surrounded by people constantly demanding her attention whether in person, online or on the phone from the second she woke up to the moment she fell, drained, into bed at night. She had craved that break in routine, that chance to be alone for as long as she could remember. But not this, never this!

She had known what he was the moment she had set eyes on him. With his luminescent skin and hypnotic eyes. Of course she had known, she’d read the books almost obsessively as a teenager, seen the films. Mesmerizingly beautiful, blood thirsty immortals existing just on the brink of the mortal world. Close enough to be noticed, but never close enough to be understood. She had denied it to herself, thinking he probably had some deep rooted fascination with horror stories and had invented a new persona for himself. She had envied him in that respect, how she wished she could be someone else for a while, completely change who she was and have a totally different life. She had pushed it to the back of her mind when they were together. How could he be? They were fictional monsters, not real life. He had charmed her and made her feel wanted, needed. But she had known all the same what he was, what he had to be, deep down somewhere inside her she had known. She had still let him in though, allowed him to become her friend, her confidant. And in return he had done this to her. She had not asked for this, she was certain of it, never gave him any reason to think this was what she wanted…………….had she?

In the darkness she slowly stretched out her hands to feel what was around her. Instinctively she knew where she was and what she had to do and surprisingly, she felt no fear. She should be terrified right now. Any normal person would be screaming and shouting for their lives, but she was calm. She felt that peacefulness that she had craved for so long as she realised that her life had completely changed overnight. He had given her that longed for chance to escape. She took a breath and the scent of cold, damp earth filled her nostrils. Yes, she knew exactly where she was and she wasn’t afraid.

There was no urgency to get out of here. No claustrophobic feeling. She could breathe normally, did she still breathe? She closed her eyes in the blackness and relaxed, for the first time in years she felt completely at ease with herself and her life. But she hadn’t wanted this! Why would anyone want this? A lifetime of darkness, a life of solitude, a life where she would have to alienate herself from her friends and family, everyone who meant anything to her. A pang of sadness ripped through her body and she sobbed, no, she had not wanted this!

She had wanted a day off, that’s all. Maybe a holiday, but no longer than that. She would have been happy to go back to it all once she felt rested. Back to the daily grind of non stop phone calls, demands from customers, the feeling of exhaustion that followed her wherever she went, the weight on her shoulders that she carried everywhere. The complaints from friends and family that she was always too busy for them. Could they not manage without her? It wasn’t as if they had ever been close anyway.

She reached out again and began to claw at the wood above her. Pushing her fingers through the gaps and tearing at it until it came away. Soil began to fall through the gaps onto her skin. She worked faster, a sudden urgency taking over her. She had to get out of here and confront him. The wood was coming away easier, she liked this new strength and moved faster still in the gloom. Then the earth was falling down around her and she had to dig. She dug and scraped and pulled until she felt a rush of air coming down across her face. Her hand broke through the dirt and she hauled herself up out of the ground and blinked, trying to focus on her surroundings.

“You took your time.” He smiled at her as he perched on the edge of a nearby headstone.

She looked up and realised in that spilt second that not only had she had known what he was but that this was exactly what she had wanted from the moment she met him. She had invited him into her life to change it for her. No longer did she have to suffer the monotony of her life before this. A life she had constantly dreamed of escaping, leaving it all behind and never looking back. It was gone, all gone and she couldn’t be happier to see the back of that miserable existence.

“I had a lot to think about.” She said.

“We all have a few demons to rid ourselves of in the beginning.” He stood up, “Hungry?”

“Starving!” She nodded and brushed the dirt off her clothes with her hands.

“Let me introduce you to your new life.” He flung his arms out wide and whirled round in a circle, “I have a feeling you are going to fit in perfectly.”
She looked around with new, sharper vision and smiled. The night had never looked so bright.

19th February 2014
London, England

All change…again

February 9th; a quick update…

The hubster has now received an extension of service, our new discharge date is 21st September (and breathe…)  and we WILL be leaving Germany and moving back to the UK via the army. We’re aiming to be back there by the end of March if everything falls into place with removals and being allocated a married quarter.  Although, as ever, this is the army and we don’t hold our breath.

Things really have been changing on an hour to hour basis lately and it has been stressful to say the least! I have, on several occasions, had to stop myself from crawling into a corner and starting to rock! We have been assigned to a PRU (the unit that assists wounded and sick soldiers in either getting back to work or going through the discharge process). This should have been done 54 days after the Hubster’s injury happened, we are now almost three years down the line. We have been failed royally by the unit we were with but now things are moving in the right direction and it finally feels as though someone is working for us. Well, it’s about bloody time!

Since being assigned to the PRU, we’ve been advised to spend some time back in the UK rather than going straight to Spain, in order to complete the compensation process. As we can’t begin that until after the discharge and it would prove difficult to do from Spain. So after a lot of talking and soul searching and a fair bit of foot stamping from us both, we have reluctantly decided it would be for the best.

We’ve also decided that I will update my childcare qualifications, with a view to going onto early years teaching, giving me more scope for employment in Spain. A teaching qualification opens up many more possibilities than TEFL and a nursery nursing qualification, so it makes sense. We still intend to buy in Spain as soon as we can and if our beloved pink house is still on the market come September we will be going for it!

We may end up spending anywhere from a year to four years in the UK and although it’s not our original plan and, to be honest the whole idea fills me with dread (my worst fear is for us to get “stuck” there trying to make ends meet and not be able to get to Spain) it’s one that we feel will benefit us more in the long run.

So, there you have it. Things may or may not change again, who knows? Life on the edge and all that. But, dare I say it, I think anything else now will be minor adjustments. Life remains uncertain, but at least we have been able to make a few definite plans- something we’ve not had the luxury of for a very long time.

 

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