11 years

Lady and the trampJan and I have been together for 11 years today! A long time. Unfortunately, he has choir practice tonight so we won’t be celebrating until the weekend.

Apparently, if this were a wedding anniversary, it would be steel.
In German, numbers made up of repeating digits are calles Schnapszahlen (in maths, they use the English term repdigits. Boring!). The term Schnapszahl comes from the fact that in lots of dice games if all the dice added together make a number with all the same digits, the person who rolled it has to drink a schnapps. Sounds like a much better gift than steel to me 😉

So much has changed since our last anniversary, and I’m really looking forward to starting a new adventure together. Here’s to (at least) another 11 years!

2014 resolution recap

We’re already a week into 2015 and I’m only just getting round to recapping my resolutions from last year! Oh well, the new year doesn’t properly start until I’m back at work anyway, and while I was technically back on Monday, yesterday was another holiday in Germany so I’m only just starting to get back into a routine now. That’s my excuse anyway 😉 So how did I do on last year’s resolutions? Well, I actually only made three, and I managed to stick to them all. Here’s a recap:

  1. Travel more. I wanted to at least make an effort to go on day trips, and I managed that plus much, much more, spending time in 8 different countries over the course of 2014! Taiwan and Vienna were just two of the bigger trips I took, with a few day trips to France (Colmar), Switzerland (Basel) and some new-to-me German towns (Bad Bergzabern) thrown into the mix as well.
  2. Keep not biting my nails. Most of my nails are still not long because they insist on splitting, getting caught on things and just generally being annoying. But I can honestly say I haven’t bitten any of them off. Success!
  3. Enjoy the time I have with my boyfriend and stop worrying so much about the future. It’s difficult for me not to worry about the future… I need to know that what I have right now isn’t all there is! But I think I’ve done a reasonably good job of living in the moment and not nagging about what’s next. And no sooner did I manage to starting living in the moment than something came up that meant Jan had to make a decision about our future together anyway. Oh universe, you’re such a tease!

So that’s three resolutions made and three kept. I do have a number of goals for this year, but I’m still busy finalising and thinking about them, so you’re just going to have to wait for that post – by which time I’m sure you’ll all be completely sick of resolution posts anyway so you’ll most likely never even read mine ;-). Oh well, c’est la vie as the French would say.

 

The difference a day makes

Last night Jan came home early. So early that I hadn’t even thought about what to cook for tea yet! Then, instead of working some more, he washed the dishes while I made eggy bread and we sat down together to watch two episodes of Farscape, snuggled up on the sofa. I don’t know whether he figured out for himself that I was feeling lonely and neglected or if somebody told him (he never reads my blog, so that can’t be it), but however he figured it out he acted on it, and it was lovely. It’s amazing the difference that a few hours of quality with my boyfriend can make! Now he just needs to hurry up and finish his thesis so we can have regular couple time again…

A decade is a long time…

This is where most people wpuld insert a photo of themselves with their significant other... but I'm pretty sure Jan wouldn't like that, so here's a heart instead.
This is where most people would insert a photo of themselves with their significant other… but I’m pretty sure Jan wouldn’t like that, so here’s a heart instead.

So, the boyfriend and I have been together ten years today!! If we’d been married for that many years, we’d be celebrating our tin anniversary (you’d think the first round anniversary would be something a bit more exciting than tin!). I’m pretty sure one of us deserves a medal for managing to stay in a relationship for this long… although I’m not entirely sure which of us 😉

Jan has a paper due first thing tomorrow, and it’s an important one because the conference it’s for actually bears some relation to his dissertation (unusual… most of the time he’s forced to work on the projects that actually bring in the money at the expense of his own work), so we won’t really be celebrating. He did say this morning that he doesn’t think he’ll have enough time to finish it – which really sucks – but I suspect he will try anyway. Also, I woke up this morning with what feels like the beginnings of a cold, so I’ll probably end up in bed with my water bottle and a pile of tissues by 9 pm! Jan is planning on working on his paper from home though, so we should at least be able to eat together.

Ten years! Double figures! Who ever could have guessed that something as a year abroad romance could have lasted this long? I certainly didn’t expect this. But I’m glad we are still together.

My 2013

At the start of 2013, I wrote a month-by-month account of what I’d been doing the year before. It helped me remember that I had actually done a few interesting things in 2012 and made me really look forward to the year ahead. I enjoyed writing that post, so I’ve decided to do it again this year. Photos are being kept small to avoid an overload (and the crashing of slower computers… i.e. mine!).

January

Jan and I have a tradition of spending every New Year somewhere different, and in 2013 it was the turn of Luxembourg, so I saw in 2014 standing on a bridge over a giant gorge watching fireworks.

Fireworks in Luxembourg
Fireworks in Luxembourg

Later in the month, we took a trip to nearby Schwetzingen to see a talk about the making of marionettes. We had a brief look at the gardens, but it was cold so we decided against going for a walk. We’ll have to go back some day when there isn’t snow on the ground!

In Schwetzuingen castle gardens
In Schwetzingen castle gardens

Not much else of note happened in January. I seem to recall spending most of it eating soup, drinking tea and trying my best to stay warm!

February

At the beginning of February, with my 30th birthday rapidly approaching, I came up with the idea of thinking of 35 things to do before I turn 35 and made a start on adding things to the list. On 5 February, Jan and I celebrated 9 years of being in a relationship. Considering my previous “longest relationship” lasted about six months, nine years seemed like quite an achievement! Shrove Tuesday also came around in February, so naturally pancakes had to be consumed. Yum yum!

Pancaaakes!
Pancaaakes!

At the end of the month, Jan went away with work… and came back minus his appendix! Not my favourite week of the year…

March

Jan’s birthday was in March, but he was still in Turkey so there was no celebrating. St Patrick’s Day was spent in the Irish Pub, of course. We all dressed in green and wore silly hats… and winter coats! Despite the fact that March is officially spring, it was still snowing as late as the 25th!

25 March 2013
25 March 2013

Easter arrived at the very end of the month, and Jan and I made use of the long weekend for a trip to Rastatt and the Schloss Favorite.

April

The first day of April was still the Easter weekend, so we took the opportunity for another day trip. This time the destination was Bad Dürkheim, home of the world’s largest wine barrel (which has never actually been used to store wine…).

Bad Dürkheimer Weinfass

Three days later, we headed off on a trip that I had been looking forward to for ages… Berlin and, most importantly, Eddie Izzard live!!

Force Majeure

While I was there, I also managed to cross something off my 35 before 35 list – play blacklight minigolf. And that was pretty much it for April…

May

May is one of my favourite months in Germany, purely because there are sooo many public holidays, starting with  the Maifeiertag on the first of the month!  This year, it was on a Wednesday so Jan and I took the Thursday and Friday off work and went to visit his dad for his birthday. Also in May was a trip to a wheelchair rugby Champion’s League match, which was happening in Karlsruhe.

Wheelchair rugby 1

The second of May’s public holidays was Pfingstmontag, aka Whit Monday. A long weekend… hurrah! Jan and I went to his colleague’s wedding celebration and I baked a cake for it. The following week, Jan and I went hiking in Baden-Baden and I discovered I can walk a lot further than I think I can!

Geroldsau Waterfall
Geroldsau Waterfall

June

June 2013 can basically be summed up in one word… Ireland! I had been to Dublin before and enjoyed it, but now I’m head over heels in love with the entire country. So green! Such friendly locals! And they do proper Sunday roasts just like back at home in England. Also, while I was away my blog turned five!

The River Nore and Kilkenny Castle
The River Nore and Kilkenny Castle

July

In July, I started to get serious about trying to lose weight (after going on about it since about February!) and began a new series on my blog– Weigh-in Wednesdays. Also in July, Jan and I visited Nagold, Rottweil and Horb am Neckar all on the same day, meaning I had now visited all the towns I needed to be able to complete my 30 German Towns Before 30 challenge… all that remained was writing up the last few in time for my birthday!

Buildings down by the river in Nagold
Buildings down by the river in Nagold

The rest of the month sped by, and before I knew it, it was time for me to visit England (Jan was supposed to come too, but he fell ill the day we were due to fly and ended up in hospital with some kind of “mystery virus”). I spent my time in the motherland becoming godmother to the most gorgeous little boy and celebrating my mam’s 50th birthday. On the way back, my connecting flight from Amsterdam was cancelled! I was able to transfer to a flight to Stuttgart, but unfortuately my luggage never made it on to the plane! Luckily the suitcase quickly turned up and was delivered to me at home two days later.

August

My birthday month!!! Cue major panicking. In the event, turning 30 wasn’t so bad… apart from the minor drunken meltdown after drinking lots of whiskey on the actual day. I didn’t mention it at the time (and wasn’t fully aware of it myself until a few weeks later), but that little episode almost cost me my relationship! Jan was definitely not a happy bunny. We’re all good again now though. When I wasn’t getting drunk and emotional, I celebrated my birthday with the Rocky Horror Show auf Deutsch and a birthday party (or “bee-day” party) that was made extra specially amazing by my wonderful friends and boyfriend (even when he was mad at me, he made sure my party was good!). At the end of the month, I decided to stop my weigh-in Wednesdays series at just above my goal weight.

I'm covered in beeees!
I’m covered in beeees!

The annual Bierbörse also came to Karlsruhe at the end of August.

September

September 2013 will forever by remembered as the month that I got my wisdom teeth out. But I did manage to make it to a wine festival in Bad Dürkheim before my diet was restricted to nothing but soup for days on end! Oh, and it turns out being practically incapable of eating was exactly what I needed to finally reach my goal weight. I wouldn’t recommend the wisdom teeth diet though (and I’ve since put half the weight back on. Sigh)! The rest of September went by in a blur of pain, dental appointments and work, leaving me with the feeling that I’d done nothing all month!

Wine in Bad Dürkheim
Wine in Bad Dürkheim

October

At the beginning of October, Jan and I went to Trier to meet a friend and go elephant hunting. A few weeks later, my favourite Irish pub celebrated its 5th birthday… on a Wednesday! Cue a night of drinking and live music followed by a day of feeling like a zombie at work after getting roughly three hours of sleep. That weekend brought sunshine with it, so Jan and I took advantage of one of the few nice autumn days and took a trip to Triberg im Schwarzwald – apparantly it was the month of visiting places beginning with Tri…
Near the end of the month, my maternal grandma ended up in hospital with pneumonia… and I only found out by chance via Facebook!

A blue elephant in Trier
A blue elephant in Trier

November

November started with a trip to the place I used to live in Austria. It turns out Feldkirch hasn’t changed much! I really enjoyed getting to spend a weekend away with my boyfriend and meeting my friends’ adorable baby boy! While we were away, we also stopped by Garmisch-Patenkirchen, Neuschwanstein Castle and Augsburg. Later in November, I went to a whiskey tasting at my local Irish pub – on the same day that I’d signed up to take a photo an hour with Jane of Is That You Darling. Anda few weeks later,  I made blue cake with a Dr. Who theme for a friend’s birthday party. November was also the month that my grandpa (dad’s side of the family this time) went into hospital to have his right kidney removed after a cancerous tumour was found on it… and the month Jan left for South America for two weeks, leaving me all on my lonesome!

The view from our hotel room window in Feldkirch
The view from our hotel room window in Feldkirch

December

Since it currently still is December and I’m sure you can still remember what I’ve written about over the past few weeks, I won’t say too much here 😉 Basically, this month consisted of a lot of overtime, stressing over the buying of Christmas gifts and several trips to the post office to spend way more money than I had bargained for on sending parcels. I also visited the Mediaeval Christmas market in Durlach, and my boyfriend returned from South America. I also made my annual Christmas dinner for friends. Currently, I am in the UK celebrating Christmas with my family.

Overall, I don’t feel as positive after writing this post as I did at the end of 2012. Despite my trips to Berlin and Ireland, I don’t feel like I’ve travelled as much this year. Instead, 2013 basically seems to have been a whirlwind of work and illness… between Jan’s hospital stays, illnesses within my family and getting my wisdom teeth out, this hasn’t been the greatest year healthwise. And with all the extra hours I’ve been doing at work, it feels like there’s been very little play. Obviously the year hasn’t been all bad – my personal highlights being seeing Eddie Izzard, two weeks in Ireland, becoming a godmother, my birthday party and meeting my friends’ baby in Austria – but I have to admit I will be very glad to see the back of 2013! Jan and I are going to Madiera for New Year though, so hopefully the year will finish on a high note and January will herald the start of a much more nicer year!

*Please note: This is a scheduled post as I am still away for the holiday season. I will reply to comments as soon as possible*

It’s all good!

Day 51 - Together
Together (Photo credit: Cristiano Betta)

Jan has been back from South America for a week now and since then things have been really good between us… and (TMI alert!!) not only because we’ve had some fantastic sex 😉 It’s like nothing at all has changed, but everything has. He’s still working late most nights and I’ve been doing overtime before running around like a headless chicken every evening, trying to get to the post office (I might as well move in there!), do shopping, write Christmas cards (finished those now, thankfully!) and  keep semi on top of the housework. But when we finally do get to sit down together, it just… works. We’ve even has a few serious discussions on topics that we don’t necessarily agree on (nothing to do with our relationship) and haven’t argued. That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most of you, but believe me it is! (I’m not very good at stating my opinion without getting loud and argumentative!).

Yesterday, we spontaneously decided to go to the Christmas market together. Jan hadn’t been to it yet this year, so we went and we both agreed that the atmosphere is much nicer now that it’s moved (the place it used to be is currently a giant construction site!). We drank Feuerzangenbowle under the trees and talked about nothing much… and it was just nice (there’s that word again! My GCSE English teacher would have a fit!). Of course, spending the afternoon not doing work means Jan didn’t come to bed until the early hours of the mornin, but having him to myself for those few hours in the afternoon more than made up for that. 2013 hasn’t exactly been my favourite year ever, but I’m hoping this is the start of something good that will continue over Christmas and beyond!

Nine years on

Love ? I love love love you.
Love ? I love love love you. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Today, Jan and I have been together for nine years! Unbelievable. At the beginning, I never expected us to make it this far. I was on my year abroad, I’d recently broken up with someone else and my longest relationship until that point had been less than a year.

We’ve had our struggles and ups and downs, of course – starting when, after six months of being together, I had to go back to England to complete my degree while Jan went off to America for a year. Ironically, I had previously broken up with someone because I couldn’t handle being in a long-distance relationship – and the distance in that case was only between Northumberland and Nottingham (sorry Jay!!). However, neither of us wanted to break up at that point, so we agreed to try, and somehow it worked! Despite the fact that we only saw each other once, for precisely one week, between my 21st birthday in August 2004 and my graduation in July 2005 (my dad bought me a return flight to America as my Christmas present in 2004).

Long distance love
Long distance love (Photo credit: Dvortygirl)

After another year of long-distance – this time with me in Austria (read that carefully – it’s the one without the kangaroos) and Jan back in Germany, I decided that seeing my boyfriend an average of once a month wasn’t enough for me and made plans to move to Germany.

And now, almost six-and-a-half years later – I moved back in September 2006 –  here we are celebrating our 9 year “anniversary” (I wish I could think of another word for that…). I wonder what the next year will bring?

(Apologies to those who already know this story – probably not many. Pinklea maybe? I’ve gained a few new readers over the past year and I felt it was worth repeating).

In which I overshare about my sex life

NOTE: If you have a problem with the whole sex-before-marriage thing (sorry, but I’ve been with my boyfriend nearly 9 years, living together for almost 3. You really think we don’t do it?!) or just don’t want to read about other people’s sex lives please feel free to click away now. Consider yourself forewarned – and don’t blame me if you get to the end and feel offended! For the rest of you… read on (I promise not to get into too much detail…)

So, over the course of our relationship, the boyfriend and I haven’t always had sex as much as I would like.

No Sex
No Sex (Photo credit: djwingsia)

Obviously during our two year long distance relationship, not much of anything was happening, but after I moved to Germany I expected things to pick up. Which they did, at first but gradually “it” happened less and less often. Then at some point we would talk fight about it, things would improve for a while, then it would dwindle again until we were doing it maybe once a month.

So, a few weeks before Christmas, after getting nothing for almost two months, I told Jan I was thinking about coming off the pill once all the ones I still had were used up – after all, what was the point in protecting against immaculate conception? (Of course I was going to finish the packets I had left – I pay good money for those suckers! Welcome to any country that’s not in the UK…). Not the best start to that conversation, I admit. Inevitably it ended in a fight (you can’t make start a conversation with those words and not hurt your man’s feelings..), I cried, then I had to go to work. Yes… I have great timing.

The next day, I sat down and wrote a letter explaining everything I wanted to say. It had to be a better option than blurting things out without thinking about what I wanted to say, right? I left the letter for Jan to read and (again) went to work – I wanted him to read it when I wasn’t there, so he would have time to recover from his first reaction and really think about what I was trying to say, rather than getting defensive in the heat of the moment. Later, he thanked me for writing the letter. Then we each agreed to work on what was bothering the other person (basically, he says he’s sick of always being the one to initiate things, while I say whenever I try to initiate anything he doesn’t seem interested, and even things that have worked before never seem to work a second time. Like I said, oversharing…). We then went away for Christmas, sleeping in beds at other people’s houses, and I started my period, which didn’t help… so still no sex.

Then, 2 weeks ago, while in bed, I asked him what I would have to do to turn him on. Unbelievably, his first response was that he didn’t know! (How am I supposed to know if he doesn’t?). He then countered by asking what I’d been trying. Apparantly I was too subtle though – he hadn’t even noticed me doing those things!! In the end I did get a few ideas. But the next time we did it, he was the initiator again… so on Friday night I decided to take the bull by the horns (oo-er, I’ve just realised how dirty that sound in this context!).

Romantic film icon created from Nuvola icons
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Jan got home, I was finishing off the white sauce for the lasagne while the washing machine beeped furiously. Stress! He immediately offered to hang the washing, allowing me to finish tea. I finished preparing the lasagne, stuck it in the oven, and went to the living room, where I found Jan hanging the last item of washing on the airer. Excellent! I saw my chance and started kissing him. Passionately. After a few minutes of this (plus a bit of neck kissing and… other stuff), he asked “Is there anything you would like”. My response “Well… we have half an hour…” I’ll leave the next bit up to your imagination…

… we finished just in time for the lasagne to come out of the oven. I guess I do still have an affect on him after all…

Why am I telling you this? I know I’ve complained on here before about being sexually frustrtaed and worried that my boyfriend no longer finds me attractive… so I thought for once I would tell you something positive… plus I wanted to tell someone, and I don’t really have anyone other than my blog to discuss my sex life with. (HA, I won’t tell my friends, but the Internet is fair game? I’m so not normal…). And if you’ve got this far and are offended/bored/amazed at my stupidity, well, all I can say is I did warn you at the beginning. I make no apologies… I’ve felt happy and confident all day today, and that was something I wanted to share. 🙂 (But I sincerely hope neither my mother nor any of my colleagues ever comes across this blog…)

p.s. One of the suggested tags from Zemanta for this post is “human sexual activity”. Well, yes I should hope so! As far as I’m aware neither of us are dogs. Or aliens…

The state of my relationship

Those of you who have been reading for a while are probably wondering what’s going on with my relationship since I made this decision earlier in the year. Or I could be flattering myself and you’re not actually interested ;-). For those who don’t know what I’m talking about and don’t want to go and read my previous long (and – I see now  error-filled) post, in a nutshell I told my boyfriend of nearly 9 years that if he couldn’t decide what he wants from our relationship by the end of the year I would move out. To quote myself in the post I wrote at the time if, by that time, “he still doesn’t know what he wants, then I don’t think he ever will“.

Well, it turns out I am weak. Jan has been trying really hard recently to show that he does appreciate me and what we have. He has been calling to let me know when he’s on his way home, letting me know when he’s going to be late and I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve actually eaten together in the evenings!! If you’ve been reading for a while you will know actually getting to eat a meal with my boyfriend is a major deal!! He has also said he enjoys living with me and wants me to stay. He is still unable to tell me what he wants and if there is any chance of our relationship going anywhere. Despite this I’ve decided to stay – because I’m not ready to be single (once we break up, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll want to find someone new). Because I love him. Because we have argued so little over the past few months and life has just felt good. Because I am too weak to do what is best in the long run

...Hope...
…Hope… (Photo: ĐāżŦ {mostly absent})

knowing it’s going to hurt me right now. And because, deep down, I still have hope – that he will eventually want to settle down with me, that “eventually” will turn out to be sooner, that we can somehow find a way to compromise and make things work. Hope is  a bitch!

I am aware that, by making this decision, I have basically given him free rein too do what he likes. Obviously I don’t follow through on my consequences, so what reason does he have to believe me in future? I am also aware that I’ve basically forfeited my chances of ever getting married or having children. Please don’t rub that in – I’m having enough trouble coming to terms with it anyway! But even if I decided to leave, I’m not sure I would even want to be a mother any more. I’m 30 in less than a year and the last thing I ever wanted was to be an old mother. Having my first child when I’m already past 30 is just not for me. A second or third child after 30, okay. But the first? How old would I then be then by the time any more came along? And while it’s fine when they’re babies, the only reasons I was in any way able to get along with my parents as a teenager was because they were young enough that I felt they could understand (I wouldn’t have wanted to have kids as young as they did though – my mum was only just 20 when I was born!). 25 was the perfect age for the first child, I thought. Upon reaching 25 I realised there was no way it would be happening any time soon and changed to the very vague “before I turn 30”. Now that I’m coming up to 30, I’m becoming less and less certain that I am even cut out to be a mother. New borns terrify me (they look so fragile!) and if I never have any children I can’t mess them up for life, right? If I were to get pregnant by accident then that would be nice, but since that is highly unlikely I would rather be in a childless relationship with someone I love and genuinely enjoy being with than live alone with neither children nor a boyfriend.

As Tina Dico says, not much is so much more than nothing. And despite how this post sounds, I am happy right now! So even if failing to stick to my decision is weak and I may be making a rod for my own back in the long run, right now I choose being happy with my non-comittal boyfriend over being miserable and alone. I’ll have plenty of time to do that for the rest of my life.

Heart Candle
Heart Candle (Photo credit: Bob.Fornal)

A mini breakdown… and a potential breakthrough

An hour ago, Jan called me to let me know that he’s not going to mak it home before the early hours of the morning (he’s working on a paper, deadline midnight and needs access to the computers at work to run the tests he wants to write about). He’s been working on the paper for about a week now, so I wasn’t really expecting him home at a sensible time tonight, but the fact that he actually bothered to call put a huge smile on my face. While this may not seem like a big deal to many of you, his not calling is exactly the kind of thing we disagree on. We’ve agreed that, once our evening meal is ready, I won’t wait around too long for him, but will eat alone leaving his portion for him to heat up later, and while this means I get to eat at a sensible time, when he neither calls nor shows up I can’t help but feel it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. He, on the other hand, says it’s not that he never thinks of me when I’m not there, he just loses track of time and it doesn’t occur to him that I’ll be cooking tea already. So him calling me as early as 6 o’clock is nothing short of a miracle.

This comes on the heels of a bit of a mini breakdown on my part yesterday. I have to admit, I have slightly crap timing – Jan was actually doing some work for the aforementioned paper at the time and was about to get ready to go and meet his choir for a warm up before a festival they were performing at. But after being ignored by him nearly all morning, then catching him on a forum rather than actually working on the paper, I burst into tears, told him I wouldn’t be coming to his festival and stormed off for a shower. Yeah… it’s not exactly something I’m proud of. But… we talked, Jan said he had noticed my getting rid of things and preparing to move, and he does want me to stay, he just doesn’t know what he can do to make me want to do so, especially since he still can’t see his way to offering me any kind of long term commitment. And I told him it’ not like I’m looking for a marriage proposal… or even a commitment to stay with me forever without a bit of paper, but I want to feel that he’s at least willing to give us a proper try, not just drift along the way we have been doing. So, he has promised to try and show me that I am important to him, even if he can’t make a decision to save his life and I’ve promised to communicate more, and let him know what’s actually bothering me rather than saving it all up and letting everything out out once. That method only leads to arguments… and tears (mine, not his). So back we go, for another try. But he has said he wants me to stay… which isn’t quite the major decision I’ve been hoping for, but I feel it is a breakthrough, of sorts. Baby steps… And today, at least I get to go to bed happy.