Mad dogs and Englishmen
If you don’t know the Noel Coward song, please click here. If you know it, click and listen again!
I am writing this post a day after realising I’ve been here a month already. It has absolutely whizzed by and I do declare that it’s really starting to feel like we’re not holidaying but, just perhaps, living here.
Keen to keep up the British stereotype, I am out in the garden at any sunny interval – a bikini is entirely acceptable attire when doing one’s german homework, right?
Last week, saw a mix of weather worthy of the UK – all four seasons showcased in under 48 hours. The forecast said chance of snowfall was only 40% so of course, I decide to cycle to my German class; 20mins in to the hour-long ride, and the snowfall becomes so heavy that my sunglasses fail as the ‘snow-shields’ I had envisaged and instead form translucent panels that only disintegrate with repeated upward puffs of breathe, in the way that you blow a hair from out of your eyes. When I then pass the only person that’s daft enough to be out in this weather, I’m doing an impression of Popeye
The journey home was even worse as the snow became hail for about 10 minutes, but there’s something about situations like these that I love. When you feel you’re doing something that is outside the norm – similar to the enjoyment I would find on early shifts (as a lifeguard at the Ladies’ pond). Each winter swim was a mini personal victory – as regular winter swimmers, we all knew that you would feel amazing during and after the swim, but getting into the water always took a particular type of grit. I would have to go in regularly to keep ‘habituated’ but the women that chose to swim there in all weathers were an inspiration to me, showing incredible mental strength – often favouring the steps and gradually lowering themselves into the water, instead of diving or jumping as I would do. The cycle in the snow and hail was the same rush for me, particularly as cycling is still a new skill I’m acquiring. It made me realise that I’m happiest when I feel like I’m pushing past my comfort zone. By no means do these challenges have to be physical but it’s been food for thought as to how else I might stretch myself.
The need for completion or achievement of tasks is something I’m constantly battling with as a singer. While R was doing his PhD; it struck me that our goals were both so far away that the daily motivation comes from balancing the long-term and short-terms views. If I ever figure that balance out for more than 5 minutes, I’ll pass it on!
Besides my ‘deep and meaningfuls’, a fair amount has gone on. My cycling has improved pretty drastically; I no longer need to mentally prepare myself for each trip, I can start and stop with a fair amount of grace most of the time and I even managed to signal (that I was turning right) the other day, without stopping – my regular routes require no turns. It is pride that creates the havoc in my brain when I’m in close proximity to people – be they walking, cycling or driving but, as with German, that havoc is slowly being replaced by a voice that says ‘Listen’ or ‘breathe’! It means my comprehension of German is improving hugely, as I’m actually listening the first time, rather than waiting for them to finish so I can ask them to repeat.
A few experiments in the food department have led to lumpy sauces, odd concoctions and other unfortunate results but when you have Bavarian pretzels on your doorstep, life can’t be too bad. And so, toodle-pip for now