Argh, I'm jealous of everyone who's already seen "Heath Ledger pound[ing] frantically away at Jake Gyllenhall's filets of topside" (thanks, Any) in Brokeback Mountain. Apparently we're not going to get it here in Germany until 9th March, and even then it'll be in German only.
On a positive note, I've just looked up English cinemas here and found out that Jarhead, also staring Jake Gyllenhaal, is playing at the moment, so perhaps I'll just have to go and see that for now instead.
It's been a number of months now since I finished my masters course in London, and since I was told of my unofficial results, but today my official degree certificate arrived at home. I didn't think I'd actually get it until the graduation in September this year, so it was a nice surprise when my parents sent a copy to me by email today. What was even better was that I'd been awarded the highest classification possible - a Distinction - which was up from the Pass that the unofficial results suggested I'd get.
When I was coming back to Germany after Christmas, I had a few hours to spare in Manchester, so I popped into HMV to see if they had any bargains on DVDs that might just tempt me. I'm not quite sure why I thought I'd buy anything, considering I had absolutely no room left in my bags, and was probably already overweight. (The bags, that is, not me). I blame my brother for very thoughtfully buying me a toaster at Christmas without thinking about how I'd get it back.
In the shop, I ended up browsing the World Cinema section, and spotted A Very Long Engagement. Directed by the same guy that directed Amelie, it's a movie my boss recommended, knowing that I loved that movie.
Somehow then, I ended up looking at the edge of the Gay Interest section without realising. In fact, I'm sure there was some overlap, as I spotted a foreign movie in the middle somewhere - Krampack (aka Nico and Dani) - that looked kind of like a Spanish version of Beautiful Thing.
Then, out of the corner of my eye caught another DVD - Campfire.
As always seems to happen in the high street stores though, I looked at the prices and felt certain I could buy them cheaper with a little searching online. So one night a few weeks back I ordered these DVDs through play.com after realising that they posted to Germany for free, just as they do within the UK. It took a while for them to arrive, and despite ordering them at the same time, I don't think any of them arrived on the same day. I had visions of the German customs people stopping them because I'd bought them from outside the country.
When I was shopping online for them, I was recommended another that Amazon thought I may like. I read it was Wrestler, and when I noticed it was a gay German movie, I thought I ought to check it out. I realised after I bought it that it was actually called Westler, not Wrestler, but still it sounded good.
So, what were they like, I hear you ask. Well, A Very Long Engagement was a great movie, set in the war, telling a very moving story. If you like Amelie, I think you'll enjoy this, but don't expect the beloved Amelie-style humour in this drama. Krampack was a nice coming of age film about two lads growing up and exploring their sexuality. Campfire, a collection of short films, was frankly a little weird. Westler was much less weird, and definitely worth watching.
Then this evening I was just flicking through some channels when, par chance there just happened to be two guys wrestling in a river. It was all in French, but I could understand parts of it, and just about work out what was happening. As it went on it became apparent that it was a movie about forbidden love in a Nazi-occupied France. Un amour à taire kept me engrossed throughout, partly because I was trying to translate, but also because it told a horribly moving story that just kept drawing me in further.
(I think back to Airplane when I say this quote to myself - oh how I love that movie)
Anyway, from feeling better about myself yesterday having done so much walking, and being in a good mood this morning and raring to get to work on time and get stuff done, I got in only to find an email waiting for me that wiped all that goodness away. Looking back it perhaps wasn't so bad, but this morning I was fuming over it. I had to leave the office for some fresh air. A hasty reply in those situations isn't always the best thing, but I couldn't just ignore it. A chat with someone higher up settled my nerves a little bit later on but didn't exactly put me back into the mood I'd started the day in.
Ah well. The day has passed, and today is a new day. This evening I luckily resisted the temptation to go and sit in the bar, thinking myself into a worse situation. Instead I watched a DVD at home, and tried to forget about it all. Roll on a new day!
Feeling a little guilty for not making it to the swimming pool this week, I decided today to go for a bit of a walk. Last weekend I'd walked to the oldest Television Tower (Fernsehturm) in the world - which has recently reopened after renovation. By the time I'd got there however, I realised I didn't have enough money to get to the top and to get the train home as well. Plus, it was dark and I was cold by then, so I made my way home again.
Today, I set out walking much earlier. I didn't have a plan and hadn't particularly planned to go back there again, but ended up there anyway after walking through one of the nearby towns that lies between me and the city. This time though, it was a little too misty to get a good view from the top, so again I didn't go up. I was impressed with myself though, I'd walked over 6km in just over an hour, and still wanted to walk some more. By the end of the day, I'd walked almost 15km - just over 9 miles. That's surely better for me than my normal 45 (or as little as 30 sometimes) minute swimming session.
On the way back, I stopped for a kebab, something which over the past few weeks seems to have been turning into my Sunday meal. Admittedly, that's not quite so healthy.
I was at work until gone 8 on Thursday and didn't have anything in at home to eat, so I went to have a quick meal at the Irish bar. I was doing well, and pacing my drinks very well, until I started getting into the music a bit more (the guy that's playing at the moment is the guy that was playing when I first came here). I then spotted that one of the people I'd met last week was at the bar, so I went over and had a few drinks with him. Again, it was late when I got home after staying till closing time, then watching an episode of The Office. Thankfully it was nowhere near as late as the last time, but still much later than I should have been up on a work night.
Argh. I can't do this kinda thing any more. It's not too bad until it starts affecting my work, but that's the point at which it has to stop. I'm going to avoid drinking this week. Let's see if I can stick to it!
It's been a long, busy week. With lots of work to do, we've been in the office long hours to make sure things have been finished on time. Working until 8.30 both Monday and Tuesday, I felt like I wanted to unwind a little and went to a friendly little Irish bar I know (a little too well). I was pretty tired so I didn't plan to stay long - perhaps just for one or two, or until I'd finished the copy of Focus Magazine that I'd taken to read. (It's been about two years since I last read it, and sadly it seems to have been dumbed down a little since I first discovered that I enjoyed reading it - but I'll give it another chance because it's still an interesting read).
When I went for my usual two drink toilet break, I had to squeeze through two tables, and managed to knock the menu on the table next to me, which in turn knocked the salt shaker and spilled salt everywhere. I apologised, and continued on my way. When I came back, I paid much better attention to what was around me, and made sure I held the menu, grinning at the lady who'd cleaned up the salt last time. As I had successfully made my way through the two tables, I turned to sit back down. Little did I realise that there was a Focus mag sitting slightly over the edge of the table. Of course it fell, and I just got laughed at, both by the salt-pot people and by the people on my table who had noticed what was going to happen, and who tried to stop it, unsuccessfully. Anyway, embarrassed, I decided to have another drink.
It got late, I'd finished the magazine and I was getting bored, so I went over to sit at the bar for one last drink and a chat to the barman, before going to bed. Of course I had to choose the seat next to an English guy who's working in one of the musicals here and a woman who told me she was from Brighton originally, but who had a thick German accent. Confused, I stayed chatting for a while, until they kicked us out of the bar at closing time. I was taken along to another bar that seemed to stay open even longer and had a drink bought for me, before they kicked us out too.
I ended up trying to argue the odds of a lottery (don't remember why!) with the musician and got back to my room at 6am, having had far too many drinks and having swapped my Focus magazine for a New Scientist and a Scientific American that this guy had.
By this point I realised I wasn't going to make it into work on time, so decided I'd go in a little later. I didn't get in until 1pm on Wednesday, feeling slightly sorry for myself and not sure whether or not I was going to get into trouble. At least I'd worked enough hours in the two days previous to mean that I didn't miss any time, but it was still naughty of me to just not turn up until after noon.
Must be careful not to do that again. It was good to meet people though. I was meant to go and meet them in town last night as well, but having had an evening swim I felt shattered and so had an early night instead.
So, after that post I went onto Flickr to see if anyone had any interesting shots of Ritter Sport. It turns out there are some lovely shots on there that are worth checking out... especially Southeast Star's photos. Mmm
I wanted to get out of the city yesterday to visit somewhere not too far away. I had thought originally that I would visit Warstein - where Warsteiner beer comes from - thinking that it wasn't too far away. When I realised it was actually about a 4 hour drive, I gave that idea up in favour of a shorter, sweeter trip.
Instead, I made the 20 minute drive to Waldenbuch, the home of Ritter Sport, the chocolate bar famous for being square. I parked up in the first parking that I saw, not wanting to have to pay for parking in a car park (which I did before Christmas when I visited Tübingen [my photos] with my parents) when parking on the streets is free for most of the weekend. Wandering up into the town, everything was pretty much closed and the centre deserted. Walking up the hill to the Schloss at the top - which turned out to be a museum of the region's folk history - I couldn't see the Ritter Museum, which was the main point of my visit. I considered going into the folk museum as it sounded quite interesting, but first on my priority list was finding the chocolate maker. Luckily the Schloss was at the top of the hill so had a good view over the surrounding area, meaning I could easily spot the steam rising from the chocolate factory.
With some Chocolate Factory songs in my head, I walked back down the hill and over towards the source of sweetness. I was impressed to find, when I got there, that the exhibition was free and open to everyone. It talked about the origins of cacao, through to the origins of Ritter Sport (the practical, square chocolate bar that fits in your pocket), the processes they use to make their chocolates and the changes in branding over the years.
I never understood, until yesterday, how they filled chocolate with other fillings. I didn't know that they froze the trays, let the outer layers of chocolate stick to the tray and then pour the excess out before pouring the other filling in. That works with bar type chocolates, but how do other manufacturers do it with less regularly shaped things like Maltesers that presumably aren't made in trays?
Of course you can't visit a chocolate factory and not come away with some merchandise, can you? One of the last parts of the exhibition is a little chocolate dispenser that consists of a truck that drives through a factory, picks up a randomly flavoured chocolate bar and then drives round to dump it into the dispensing chute. The queue was full of kids, but I wasn't ashamed to join. After all, I can't turn down free chocolate. One woman was grinning at the fact that I was the only 'grownup' in the line, but what did I care. After enjoying my rum and raisin miniature, I left to visit the shop and pick up some more. I didn't come away with too many, but bought a few bags of little choccies and a pile of the normal Ritter Sport bars - they were cheaper than the supermarket so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
This morning I actually made it back into work, to what has been quite a quiet day in the office as I attempted to catch up on what I'd missed over the past few weeks, working out what needs to be done for when, and then actually starting on it all.
I spent my lunchtime picking at half a chicken and trying to find somewhere to live come the end of January, at which time I should be moving out of the accommodation that's been provided for my first three months here. I've left it later than I should have done to try and find somewhere, but I'm told I can extend my stay here if necessary, until I find a place of my own. I want to be into my own place as soon as possible though.
Preferably I'd want to move into a flat share somewhere not too far from where I am now (or at least somewhere south of the city) that's close to the U-bahn. I'd like to move in to a place where I can more easily meet people, with someone who I can learn some German from, and even help them practise their English. I haven't yet found anywhere that fitted what I was after, so I posted an accommodation wanted advert in both (broken) German and then in English, just to be sure:
Ich komme aus Grossbritannien nach Stuttgart zum arbeite. Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsche aber Ich will zu lernen mehr. Ich bin 23 Jahre alt und Nichtraucher.
Ich suche ein Zimmer in Stuttgart nahe zu Moehringen, Degerloch, Stuttgart-Sud oder Vaihingen baldmöglichst (Januar/Februar 2006).
I recently moved from Britain to Stuttgart to start my job here. I am 23 years old and speak English but I also speak a little German and want to learn a lot more. I am not a smoker.
I'd like to find somewhere to live by the end of January or February, preferably near to Moehringen, Degerloch, Stuttgart-Sud or Vaihingen.
Hopefully I'll hear from someone, but I'll keep looking anyway. Ooh, in fact I've just heard from a lady offering a room near the centre of town, though it'd be a place by myself. Still, I'll have to look into that tomorrow I think.
Anyway, I've been telling myself all day today that I was going to go swimming after work, trying to get back into a routine like I was in London for some time. I even went out yesterday to get a new pair of swimming trunks after my last pair disappeared at some point over the past few weeks. (Exactly how do they size swimming trunks over here anyway? It confused me in the shop yesterday and I think I probably bought a pair that was a size too small). To try and encourage me to keep going back to the pool relatively regularly, I bought a ten-entry token which even saves me 35¢ for each visit. I've almost lost it twice now already, so I'll just have to see how long that lasts. Swimming is a nice way to end a day, though I know I'll feel it tomorrow on top of the aches and pains I got from travelling yesterday. I'm such an old man.
I was a little naughty on the way back from the pool, and stopped off to buy a couple of bars of chocolate and a few beers, but at least I stayed away from the Irish bar, which I was also tempted by.
I'm now back in Germany after a nice lazy break back at home - I didn't even get around to posting anything other than the Happy New Year message the other day. I got back late last night, about two hours later than I'd originally thought I'd be back, thereby missing the last trains from the airport as well. Despite a rather confusing situation at the taxi rank I soon left the airport (and a cute Mancunian) for the short trip back to my apartment.
The day started just before 8 so I could catch the boat in time. It turned out that one of my friends and her boyfriend were heading back on the same boat, so at least there would be someone to talk to (if only I wasn't so tired from New Year still). We ended up sitting on the same table as a guy we both went to primary school with, who I hadn't seen for a few years. Last time I saw him I was out at home with my friends, very drunk. It was also the night I came out to them, and I'm sure (for some reason) touched this guy's chest, I've no idea why.
Unsure if it was infact him on our table, I leant over to my friend, hid behind a menu, and asked her if it was him. She didn't quite hear me the first time, but second time she did (as, I would have thought, did he). She took a quick peek and thought it was him too, so I asked him if it was. It was. Whilst trying to find out what he was doing nowadays, I found out he had a girlfriend. Which just me wonder even more about what it was that happened on that night out. Oh well.
I got into Liverpool on time then headed over to Manchester to spend a few hours in the city before I flew. I'd hoped to catch up with friends bit didn't manage to, mostly because I'd left it far too late to try and get in touch with anyone. Anyway, I did manage to grab a pint of Carling and some scampi and chips in the train station as my last British meal for a while. Bored, and without a working English phone whilst I waited a day for my new Orange Pay-as-you-go SIM card to take over from my old contract, I took the train down to the airport.
I was early and the check-in desks for my flight hadn't opened yet, though the ones next to them had, and showed that I could check in for my flight there too. With huge queues, I thought I might as well start queuing. Half an hour later, and about 3 places from the front of the queue, they changed the sign and told us that people on the Stuttgart flight had to check in at the desks that hadn't opened when I started queuing. I suspect I should have just stayed in that one and kicked up a fuss, but instead I just did as they said. I was mightily pissed, but duly went to join the end of the other queue.
I didn't want to push my luck at the front of this queue either, as it turned out my bag was 4 kilos over the 20kg limit. If I'd have been arsey instead of smiling at the nice check-in guy, he'd probably have made me pay for the excess. He put me back into a good mood thankfully - despite knowing as well that the flight was now 40 minutes behind schedule. After the security check, and yet another huge queue, I discovered there wasn't much to do, with shops starting to close and very little else there. I was happy that I found a copy of the New Scientist though, as other shops I'd looked in didn't have any left.
The best thing to do in a closing down airport is to sit in the bar and read your New Scientist until they announce your flight (which by this point is now 1h10 late). A few pints later, the plane came in and stopped slightly shy of where it was meant to on the stand. More delay ensued whilst they got a tug over to move the plane into its proper place.
I was so happy to get onto the plane and into a window seat, though sadly not by the guy I was eyeing up from the bar. I'd hoped to sit next to him and strike up a conversation, and perhaps meet someone who actually lives here, but I didn't see him when I boarded so I just resorted to taking a free row to myself. At least I had a nice view of lights out of the window, even if I didn't see most cities due to them being on the other side of the plane to me.
As for this morning, I was meant to start back at work but I was so tired there was no chance of me getting up and getting in to work, so I called in and extended my holiday by a day. I hope they don't mind tomorrow, when I finally show my face.
I'm sitting with Hedwig, squinting at her screen, recovering from a fun night in with friends last night.
Happy New Year everybody, and I hope it brings all that you wish for!
I successfully stuck with my new years resolution last year and so this year I have high hopes too. Last year's one was keeping a diary (which soon merged into blogging), this years resolution is to find a boyfriend (preferably one who won't mess me up too much). It'll be a challenge, but hey, I've a year to do it :)
Another resolution I have set myself is to try and be better at staying in touch with friends, especially important considering I'm living nowhere near any of them.