4 months on…no change

So, I probably could have written something before now, but it would probably have just been a rant on the state of healthcare in Germany and my personal feelings about it.  However, let’s do it a little differently.

I have been pretty busy, as usual.  In fairness I would say that I have arguably been busier than usual if I am completely honest.

Yes my knee is still screwed, no the police haven’t done anything, no I can’t change that…so, we move on.

In terms of the knee, for the last week or so I have been unable to use any pain relief due to being given a Cortisone course.  The idea being that the tablets will help reduce the swelling under my kneecap and allow me to get the movement I need.  However, if (when) this doesn’t work, I have to spend a week in Hospital with a constant drip of cortisone directly to the knee and “Extreme Physiotherapy”.  That last bit is a direct quote from the doc..so imagine my joy.  Still, at least there is finally a plan for treatment on the table.

So, for the last week or so I have been suffering from the various side-effects of the drug. Which has made daily life interesting, in an “are you fucking kidding me?!?” kind of way.

A couple of months ago my middle brother got married and the whole family came together.  It was a superb weekend and everyone had a great time.  A few stand-out moments for me:

  • Someone pointed out that it was funny I was on the “kids” table.  My response…read the names, sitting at a table with all of my kids was the best thing I could have hoped for.
  • K & L wanting me to be involved and asking me to be a human megaphone for announcements through the day
  • Getting to have my first proper drink with 2 of my kids, as they are now old enough.  Oh, and having them buy their old man a drink or 2.
  • My Mum fretting that we were massively outnumbered and my Dad working out just who we had and then sitting back and stating “It may only be 17, but WHAT a 17…I would take on the world with this group”
  • All of the speeches from our side of the family revolving around stories about alcohol…My fave being “Dad taught us a major life lesson…when you are having a skinful, make your last one a Malibu.  Because, when you inevitably throw up, it will taste like coconut”
  • Everyone laughing at that, especially us 3 brothers…as it is a true story.  Also, Z turns to me and say..”Yeah, Granddad told me that too”.

I will be going back in May for the wedding of P & S, so I fully expect another blinding weekend.

During the last 4 months, I haven’t been able to train..so I managed to gain about 12kg.  To counter this, I got a Hand Exercise Bike…and, despite looking like a demented hamster when I use it, in the last week I have managed to shed 4 of the 12 that I gained.    I am starting to believe that I really should be as small as I now am.  The slightest bit of exercise and I drop kilos like lepers lose body parts.  The other, not considered, upside is that I am now doing a massive upper body workout every day…Who knows, I may end up ripped…but with tiny tiny legs.

I built, or more accurately helped to build, a Gaming Community.  We are over 100 members strong already and are now looking into bringing more games on board and taking this thing as big as possible.  For me, it was a nice way to reuse a dormant domain that has too much meaning associated with it to let slide.  WolfLAN is back and we have a totally custom website that one of our members built for us.  It. Is. Awesome.

If you play Overwatch or like to Role Play some AD&D, look us up.  We are a very active community.  YouTube videos are being made, streams are being twitched, laughs are being had.  We have even managed to reconnect with a few old WolfLAN’ers from back in the day.

On top of all that, I still manage to be very busy with IT for people outside of work.  Upgrades, repairs, troubleshooting, websites, phones…if it’s IT related, I am probably helping someone.

I’ll be honest, it’s no wonder I haven’t written anything for a while.  I will try and rectify that from now on Smile

Here’s the thing.  Despite the problems I have with the knee, which really limits my mobility and what I can achieve in a day, my life is still awesome.  I am still Mr Positivity and am enjoying life.  I don’t feel the need to make any big changes.  My life is full and varied.  My friendships are very important to me, my family is important to me, my hobbies are important to me.  I wouldn’t change where I am (figuratively and literally) for the world.   I guess the only improvement I could conceivably make, right now, would be a relationship.  Assuming I find the right woman, of course Smile

Also, Deutsche Bahn can fuck off…although I suspect I will write more about that later.

2!!!!!

Weihnachtswichtel und Nikolaus
Photo by caruba
…or 3, depending on when you are celebrating Christmas in your country/region.  Days that is, and frankly it is all speeding up here in Frankfurt.  Little things happen, or you go to certain events and you suddenly realise…It’s Christmas.

The Christmas market and annual Feuerzangenbowle consumption is a pretty good clue…along with attending (the first half at least) of a Christmas choir concert featuring ST (she has a fantastic voice…despite the choir leaders best efforts to fuck it up with the composition choices…), some bad acting and cute German kids singing english christmas songs with German pronunciation (sometimes)…they even did the whole sound of a storm with just their bodies…was really good.  I was just too tired to enjoy it properly and had to bail at half time.

Peoples inability to drive in the snow…and CW building the worlds smallest and cutest snowman..then carrying him for a mile to place him on the windowsill of the apartment.  He almost didn’t make it though…I think she made him out of that rarest of stuff…Lemming Snow..as he tried to leap to his escape from her hand, and lost his buttons.  Still, he seems happy on the windowsill…and his suicidal tendencies have deserted him (for now at least.

Also, I got a text from my daughter last night telling me how many days were left until I see her Grin

Anyway, onto the main reason for the post…you see, I had it all planned out…my passport was due to expire on the 31st of December.  I had known this for a while and decided to book an appointment for when I was in the UK and get a nice spangly new one by using the same day service they offer.  All fine, all dandy..no need to panic.  That is..until CW actually checked my passport on Friday and informed me that the date of expiry was the 16th of December.

Cue huge panic and phonecalls to the Consulate, Ryanair, the Consulate again and various others.  My conversations went something like this:

RING RING

Consulate:  How can I help you?

Me:  Helpelphelp!!! I need you to save me from my own stupidity (explains story)..can you do anything for me?

Consulate:  It is perfectly legal to fly into the UK on an expired UK passport.

Me:  Really??  That’s fantastic!!

Consulate:  Who are you flying with?

Me:  Ryanair…why?

Consulate:  ..ah

Me: Whaddya mean..ah??

Consulate:  Yeah, we always have problems with Ryanair…I would call them and check.

Me:  OK, I will call you back asap.

RING RING

Ryanair:  How can I help you?

Me:  Explains story, explains that Consulate advise that travel with an expired UK passport TO the UK is fine, is that a problem for Ryanair.

Ryanair:  That’s illegal, you cannot travel on an expired passport.

Me:  It’s perfectly legal, the Consulate Passport office themselves have told me.  They also told me that pretty much all of the major airlines will accept it.

Ryanair:  No, it’s illegal and you may be arrested for trying to travel with false documents.

Me:  I would be impressed if they could..it isn’t false..just expired.  It is still my picture and details…just the date is wrong

Ryanair:  Well, we don’t accept that for travel

Me:  That’s all I asked..you may want to read up on the law regarding this area…also, I will assume that Ryanairs aspirations to become a “Major” airline are non-existent.  Thanks

RING RING

Consulate:  How can I help you

Me:  Ryanair won’t allow me to travel, what else can I try?

Consulate:  Get here for 9am Monday morning and we will sort your passport out for you…we don’t normally offer a same day service..but in an emergency like this, we will do what we can.

Me:  A passport?  I thought you would just give me an emergency travel passport..

Consulate:  Naah, that’s 102 euros and only gets you into the UK once..I will look to get the full monty for you.

Me:  Fantastic, see you Monday

CHECKS INTERNET FOR RAIL PRICES

Me:  Aaaaaaargh!!!  How Much!!!!!!

RING RING

LA:  Hiya, how are you?

Me:  Not great…TELLS STORY…is your car up and running and available for me to steal on Monday?

LA:  Sure, no problem

Me:  Lifesaver, thanks Smile

RING RING

Work:  Hiya, what’s up

Me:  You know how I have Wednesday onwards booked as holiday?

Work:  Yeah

Me:  Can I swap Wednesday to Monday please?  TELLS STORY

Work:  Sure

Cue Monday’s slovenly and snowy arrival and we begin our journey at a very unsociable hour.

Check list..

  • Passport forms – Check
  • Passport photos – Check
  • Car keys – Check
  • Sat Nav – Check
  • iPod and Cassette adaptor for car – Check
  • CW – Check
  • Me – Check
  • Money – Cash.. (you see what I did there?)

We arrive at the car, clear the snow from it, start the engine and wait for it to warm up.  Everything seems fine and we head off once the Pratt Nav finds a signal.  Once we hit the motorway, all the snow, salt and other assorted crap starts hitting the windshield…no problem thinks I, a sharp squirt of the washers and sight will be restored…

PUMP WHIRRING NOISE, WIPERS MOVE AND SMEAR WINDSCREEN

We are now driving with what appears to be a sheet of dirty paper on the windshield..another pull of the washer lever results in more smearing and less visibility…

Arse, thinks I

We pull into a service station and try to clear the blockage – Needle in jets…nothing, Hot water poured over jets…nothing, pulling lever back for a minute or so in an effort for it to clear…nothing.  So, undeterred, we head off.  Repeat this every 15 to 20 minutes and the 250+ kilometers journey did seem to take a lot longer than it should.

A few things to note about yesterday…

#1 Düsseldorf must be a very healthy city, and full of superheroes..seriously, they appear to not even have heard of salt.  The motorways surrounding the city comprised of the sort of snowy mush normally reserved for small villages with little or no traffic and the pavements were designed for a city full of people that can fly…as all of the snow that had been forced off the road…had moved to the bloody paths…that didn’t have salt on them either.

#2 I get all patriotic when in the British Consulate Generals office…don’t ask me why, I really don’t have an explanation.  I told CW on at least 3 occasions that she was standing on British soil now and said “Gawd Bless ‘er” to the picture of the queen.  Additionally, German reception staff with English speech inflection is genius…

#3 I hate snow…my dodgy ankle hates it more.  CW learned all about Karma when having a go at me for almost falling over…She almost fell over herself less than 2 minutes later (no…I didn’t trip her)

#4 I was told that I was a big strong lad and would I fancy clearing the snow..by an old woman walking behind us.

#5 If the option is getting on a tram like a sardine in a can, or wandering aimlessly around…I will wander aimlessly around..despite my previously mentioned ankle issues.

Most importantly of all, the British Consulate General Passport Office is full of absolute genius, friendly and helpful staff..yes yes, I realise it is Christmas and no, I wouldn’t recommend stitching yourself up to test out their helpfulness…all I know is that they could have handed me an emergency passport and a bill for 102 euros…..but they chose to get me a full passport issued in a little under 4 hours…

Gawd bless ’em

Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone…no doubt I will post a repeat of this in 10 years when I forget to renew my passport in good time again…

It's Christmas Time…

a christmas warp
Photo by Chewy Chua
… and there’s no need to be afraid.

Or so wrote the inimitable, and not at all tramp like, harpy marrying, ridiculous child naming, humanitarian and all around do-gooder..Bob Geldof

Now yes, I realise that it isn’t Christmas time yet…despite what the shops and TV adverts are telling us.  However, I have now confirmed my Chrimble plans fully.

I will be spending Christmas Day doing…well…I don’t actually know, beyond calling the kids.  The reason?  Well, I am having a German Christmas this year with the W’s…and Germans celebrate their Christmas day on our Christmas Eve.  It’s pretty much the same as ours, big family thing, lots of food and pressies to open…just done the evening before.

It’s more of a family affair than I am used to though, with pretty much the whole W clan arriving to Oma W’s apartment for fun and frivolity.  In our family, and I think this is true of a lot of British families, we do Christmas day with the kids and immediate family…and Boxing day is when we start going around visiting other family members etc.  I am looking forward to it.

Then, a few days later, we are off to Blighty, where I will be having all four of my kids for once, and I am ecstatic about that.  My family will get to meet CW and I know they are looking forward to it…especially the kids.  After talking to Brandon yesterday, he plans to make a special hot chocolate for her…just incase she is feeling sick from the English beer and too much Devils Food Cake Smile

It is also fairly unique for me, in that I will be doing “Christmas 2  – This time it’s personal” for the first time that I can remember.  Normally, I make sure that the kids presents are wherever the kids are on Christmas day.  I prefer it that way and have never really liked the “2 Christmas Days” thing…

This time though, I will have all 4 of my kids together, and I intend to enjoy it properly…so just this once, I will be doing a 2nd Christmas day…and I love the idea of watching them open everything..I know it’s a little selfish, but I want that.  There is another reason though…and that is that I am not quite as organised as I normally am…by now, in a normal year, over half of the presents would already be at my Mums place for wrapping and sending on…as of right now, I haven’t actually bought anything and intend to start a marathon online shop-a-thon shortly.

Yeah yeah, I know…bad Dad, but still..I am pretty confident in getting everything I need in time.

I know we will all have a great time…even my Mum and Dad, who are likely as not stressing about having a houseful of people…yeah see, you thought your house was big Mum….We will see just *how* big it really is

mwaha muahahahaahaaaaa

Or something

What are your plans for Christmas then?

Secret Ingredients

Swine Flu Anyone?
Photo by Ben Chau
CW hasn’t been very well and for once it isn’t something she got from me.  Oh, and for the dirty minded amongst you, I mean she has a cold…or swine flu, possibly..nothing else.

I have been trying to do the caring boyfriend bit…you know guys, trying to persuade her to have a sleep to feel better…thus leaving you free to do your thang without running around all day (j/k CW).  However, there appears to be another way, one guaranteed to make someone feel better, at least there is according to my youngest, Brandon.

Brandon: “Make her some hot chocolate Dad, that always makes you better”

Me: “I would son, but I don’t have any in the apartment”

Brandon: “So go to the shop and get some Dad”

Me: “I am in Germany and it is Sunday…all the shops are closed”

Brandon: “Were the shops open yesterday?”

Me: “Yes, all the shops are open on a Saturday”

Brandon: “So why didn’t you get some Hot Chocolate then?”

Me: “Umm, well, CW wasn’t ill yesterday, so I didn’t know I needed some”

Brandon: *sighs* “Well, you can make your own you know…and it will make her better”

Me: “I can?  Great, how do I do that then?”

Brandon: “Ok, you need to get some coffee, tea bags, milk, sugar, flour and chocolate”

Me: “Riiiight…and what do I have to do then?”

Brandon: “You put the coffee and the tea and the flour together with some sugar and mix it all together.  Then put milk in all the way to the top, and then put it in the microwave for 10 minutes”

Me: “10 minutes?  Really?  That seems like a long time”

Brandon: “Not really, put it in the microwave and count to 10”

Me: “10 seconds, gotcha..then what?”

Brandon: “You gotta stir it, then put more sugar in and stir it again and put some chocolate in”

Me: “Ok, anything else?”

Brandon: “No, she just needs to drink it and she will feel better”

Now, I have to say that I can’t recommend this particular homemade Hot Chocolate enough…as soon as I told CW what I was going to make her, she started feeling a little better…imagine how much better she would have felt if I had been able to make it before she fell asleep.

Still, good to know for the future….and something tells me that CW may not get sick for a while Wink

Anyone else got any interesting recipes from their kids?

So that's where it comes from…

Mr Punch...still at large
Photo by chrisjohnbeckett
Have you ever wondered where Chavs come from? I always did…sure, some of them are pre-disposed to it based on their upbringing, others through peer pressure. However, where did the parents get it from, or the peers for that matter?

Today, I figured it out. It’s Punch and Judy shows. For years, this “harmless” kids puppet show has been responsible for the myriad of Burberry cap wearing, shellsuit tucked into the socks having, wooden spoiler installing wankers that are roaming around Britain today.

I took Zak and Brandon to a Falconry show today and, walking around it, we noticed a red and white striped puppet theater tent.   Memories came bubbling to the surface and I realised it was a Punch and Judy show..and it was about to start.   The boys wanted to watch the show, and as they sat down to enjoy it, I wandered off to one side so I could have a smoke.     I will admit that I was looking around and in my own little world, when sounds started permeating my own nicotine fuelled haze.   I could hear the excited yelling and screaming of the children watching the show.   “Aww, that’s nice” I thought, the performer has clearly engaged the children and is getting them to join in.   I glance across at Zak and Brandon and see that they are laughing and joining in.

It is then that I realise what is being said and I whip my mind into shape, wander round  to the front so I can see  and pay attention.   At the time I was watching, Punch was holding his baby and Judy was asking the kids to shout her name if Mr Punch was, and I quote, “Being horrible to the baby”.   Judy disappears, and Punch decides to take the baby for a walk.   Cue hilarity as the baby can’t really walk and keeps falling over.   Punch then picks up the baby, puts it on the floor….and sits on it.   The kids scream for Judy and, as she arrives, Punch picks the baby up so that Judy is none the wiser.

Now, so far so good I say…somebody was being naughty to a baby, and the kids were encouraged to tell someone about it.   Not too bad of a lesson there I suppose, when you think about it.   However, it didn’t end there.   Judy asks the kids what Mr Punch was up to and the kids duly grass him up.   When Judy starts remonstrating with the “Naughty Mr Punch”…”Naughty Mr Punch” picks up a stick that, compared to his physical size, is like you or I picking up a 2×4 plank…and batters Judy around the back of the head.

This is followed by squeals of laughter from the kids…Judy gets up and says, and I quote, “Oooh, isn’t he naughty boys and girls”..which is responded to by another battering around the back of the head.   When she is on the floor…Punch continues to hit her with the stick…and then kicks her off stage.   Whereupon he looks out at the kids and shouts “That’s the way to do it”.   I look around at the other parents and notice them smiling and laughing, the kids are in fits of laughter and I realise that most of them are probably thinking “Thanks Mr Punch, we see that this is indeed the way to do it”

A few minutes later, a police officer comes out and is looking for Mr Punch…presumably to arrest him for child abuse and battery.   Good, thinks I, they will now learn that being “naughty” actually has consequences.   I fully expected the police officer to arrest Punch and give him 25 to life in prison…for me, this would have been a great way to end the show…leaving the kids with lots of questions about what you should and shouldn’t do in life, and possibly about why Mr Punch was seen some time later walking very gingerly with a bandage on his bum.

My hopes for a life lesson were cut short though when, after confronting Punch about his “Naughtiness”, Punch proceeds to batter the copper…all the while telling the kids that “That’s the way to do it”.

It’s funny, I don’t remember any of this from Punch and Judy when I was a kid…I probably just forgot, all things considered.   That said, it is equally possible that I remember Punch and Judy as harmless kids entertainment, because it was…now it appears to be a brainwashing recruitment drive for Fundamentalist Chavlims.   I believe that Chavs are not just the grim reality of a welfare state in the UK.   I believe that they are planning to overthrow government and seize control of the UK.   It will be an almost Orwellian  world, where everyone is expected to wear shell suits, drive Ford Fiesta 1.1 cars with a wooden spoiler and a body kit, not wash for weeks on end and spend every penny you get in Aldi, Netto or the pub.   Screw the “War on terrorism”, let’s deal with the “War on Burberryism” first!

Face it, they do more damage to local towns on a Saturday night than anyone else on the planet could achieve with a years planning…they need only a small recruitment drive as each Chavette has about 9 kids by her 16th birthday…and worst of all…they are being funded by the government on a weekly basis.

I’ll leave you lot to sort it out, I’m escaping back to Frankfurt in a few days…

Oh, and for those of you unfamiliar with Mr Punch and his violent behaviour, or have simply forgotten…this video really says everything

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oM4sYxH_o4g&feature=related

Here with the kids

Well, I have been in the UK a week with the boys now, and I am having a great time.   The amazing British weather has lived up to its world wide reputation and been absolute garbage one day and perfect the next…with a smattering of crap interspersed…you know…just to keep you on your toes.

I am driving the worlds smallest car that my brother was good enough to loan me and it has taken us to Swimming Lessons, Football matches and Sundown Adventure Land.   Sundown is a great place, a theme park for the under 10’s, which means you aren’t worrying about bigger kids upsetting or hurting your little ‘uns.   That said, I think it is some form of Chav Mecca…everywhere you turn, you are confronted with shellsuit wearing, 1 year old kid with earing having, obese parents that swear enough to offend a fleet of sailors (and trust me, I swear…a lot, so I know of what I speak).   All of them bowing down to the god of Burberry, ice cream and sweat.   It seriously makes me miss Frankfurt when I am surrounded by this.   Anyway, I wasn’t there to pray with the Chavs..I was there to have fun with my boys.

We took in attractions from Santas Sleigh Ride (in August….seriously) to The Robin Hood Ride and even ended up in Storybook village, where they have created little houses to represent some of the more popular kids bedtime stories…Jack and The Beanstalk was there, Goldilocks and the 3 bears and of course Rumpelstiltskin ( Razz CW)

The kids ate themselves silly with sweets, burgers, ice cream and drinks…made sure their Dad got soaked on the barrel ride and generally tore the place up.   They got to hug the Sundown Bears and went on everything that they wanted to…we even bought Grandad some clotted cream fudge…which was nice.   In an unusual manner, the weather held off until precisely the time that the boys were done and wanted to go home…meaning that we got absolutely drenched during the run to the car.

There was a birthday party for my nephew Josh the other day and, in true LaughingWolf Family tradition, we had a rain soaked barbecue…it was superb…all of the family were there and it was a great night to reconnect with my brothers and chat to everyone.   I don’t really do enough of that, so I should really make more of an effort in this department.

I took Zak to his swimming lesson and was incredibly proud of the boy-fish that was before me…he is even able to do the correct breathing methods and everything…if I am ever in need of a brick to be saved, from the bottom of the pool…I will definitely be asking Zak to stick his PJs on t0 go and fetch it.   On top of that, on Thursday I had the pleasure of watching Zak play football in his team for the first time.   He was fantastic, his team won 5-1 and he scored.   He also survived a tackle that would have gotten most professional footballers red-carded and probably banned.   I was cheering him on like a good ‘un and filming him of course.   I can’t wait to take him next week before I head back to Frankfurt.

Brandon was joining in with a training session for his age group too and he looks to be a proper, tough tackling midfielder in the making…I am really looking forward to seeing his first game in the future too.

Today the weather was, somewhat unsurprisingly, shite…so we decided to bankrupt me further at an indoor play area.   At least I was able to have a sit down and a coffee while the kids knackered themselves out. Saying that, it took me 2 hours to get 17 miles….17 MILES!!   You would think that a large indoor kids play area would be signposted right?   I mean, especially one that is hidden away in the back streets of Lincoln.   Nope, not a sign in sight.   To make matters worse, the road that the directions insisted I followed….no road sign that I could see.   I went past it and instantly realised that it would be the road I needed…especially as I then had to drive around 2 miles at 5 miles an hour just to be able to turn around…and then back (past the road I needed…roadworks you see) 3 miles at 5 miles an hour, just to turn around again and have another go.   Still, the kids loved it and spent most of their time on what can only be described as a vertical drop slide.

So now I am turning into the rain gambler, trying to duck and dive to avoid those pesky droplets of impending bankruptcy and find things that we can do that won’t require me to actually sell one of the kids.

Anyone going to Stansted next week?   Giz a lift!   I’ll be the broken man with a small carry on suitcase, a thumb out and a head full of hopes.   Don’t ask me for fuel money though, Play Zone will have taken the last of mine for a sachet of tomato sauce…bastards.

Sentimental…who me?

TattooSo my new tattoo is finished and I am more than pleased with it.   TD did the work and it is absolutely superb, message me if you are in Frankfurt and want a tattoo..I will give you TDs details, you can’t go wrong.

The thing about tattoos, at least for me, is that they need to mean something.   You have to be prepared to wear whatever design you choose…well…for the rest of your life (laser removal not withstanding).

I must confess that my first tattoo wasn’t particularly sentimental, but was something I was willing to wear for the rest of my days as it encompasses two things that are fairly synonymous with me these days, Liverpool Football Club and a wolf.   My new tattoo, however, is full of sentiment (and wolves)

The Wolf thing has really geeky overtones, I wasn’t raised by wolves…nor do I consider myself to be a re-incarnated wolf or try to live like one etc…none of that.   Many years ago, I was a more traditional geek…involved in online chatrooms and communities, gaming as much as dial-up would allow.   Even back then, it was almost impossible to conjur up a unique and recognisable nickname..so I came up with PureStress.   I wasn’t particularly stressed at the time, but it worked for me.   The only problem it had was that I would constantly get messaged to ask why I was stressed out.

People didn’t appreciate the paradox when I blamed being constantly asked what my name means, which left me with one option.   A public renaming.   I dropped into my fave chatroom of the time and announced my decision.   Once all the abusive ones were filtered out, there were some good ones.   I liked LoneWolf for an equally geeky reason (Those “Do you want to run? (turn to page 11) or fight? (turn to page 55) or look up her skirt? (put the book down you perv!)” books), so I went with it.   Then I discovered that I would be LoneWolf8856834 on everything I signed up to and glued Pure to the front of it.

PureLoneWolf was born…and lo, I was the only one around.   I renamed my old jokes site to the LaughingWolf, created WolfLAN LAN Parties and everything else online relating to me became wolf’esque.   It sort of clicked with me in a number of ways…I am incredibly protective of my family and friends, but can go it alone for long periods (and occasionally prefer that).   Fast forward to my first tattoo and, having been referred to as a wolf for so long, it seemed only right to get a wolf stuck to my arm.   Over the years the wolf thing has become more and more significant and recognisable to those around me, gifts would be wolf related (Native American dreamcatchers, fleece blankets etc).

As all of my children live in the UK and I am here in Frankfurt, I wanted to get something done that would be representative of the kids and would let them know that I am always thinking of them.   I had been talking to TD for almost a year about the idea, and I finally got off my arse a month or so ago and went to see him.   The following day he started it.

Oh..I must tell you…when I was in for the first session a couple of giggly ladies walked in to the piercing section of the tattoo parlour.   They were confident and excited and were speaking in quite animated tones to the piercing guy.   I was lying on my stomach at this point and trying to ignore the discomfort happening to my back, so I didn’t really get what they were talking about.   A few seconds later, I notice that the screen has been pulled around the piercing station…”Aye aye”, thinks I..breasts or clit.   2 minutes later there is what can only be described as a yelp from behind the screen and the laughs fade.   Unfortunately I didn’t see them walk away, but CW assures me that one of the two ladies was walking rather gingerly away…. I hope it was worth it love, I really do.

Anyway, the tattoo is basically a male wolf surrounded by his four cubs.   They are sat in front of a tree (not representative of anyone) and the tree goes over my shoulder where the branches lead into a tribal wolf on my left arm.

Yes the tree looks sore in this picture…it had been finished about 10 minutes prior to the picture being taken.   It will fade slightly over the next week or so and look more natural with the wolves.   Also, no, despite the freckles on my back..I am not a ginger.   Oh, and the browny/red on the wolves is supposed to be there…like the eyes, I think it makes the tattoo stand out.   TD really does do amazing work.

Tattoo for the kids

From top left:   Me, Brandon-Lee and Zak
From bottom left:   Ellen, Ethan
Top:   A tree

I love it.   CW loves it and I know the kids will too – That’s all that counts

I like driving in my car

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Makinen EditionI am considering buying a car at the moment.   I am looking at the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.   It is expensive, but if I am honest, there are two things that appeal to me about the car.   The first is that I live in Germany, the land of fast motorways..the second is the thought of seeing the face of my kids as I pull up to get them in their favourite car.   Let’s ignore the fact that I can’t afford one for now..

There is a third thing, and that is the fact that it would be new.   I still miss my old Alfa, sure it had it’s annoyances and foibles, not to mention how much it cost to do anything with it, the noise it made going round in circles and all the other faults that drove me insane.   Finally it blew a valve once too often and I got shot of it, but I knew everything about that car and especially how to make it tick.   It was comfortable I guess.   I could never have an Alfa now though, I look back at all the reasons I loved that car and realise that there are far more why I don’t.   Plus, when I got it, they were rare…now they seem to let anyone drive one.   So I think it is about time I got myself a new car, it has been long enough without one of my own…you can only borrow one for the night so many times before you want one to drive whenever the mood takes you.

Let’s face it though, I live in the land of the BMW/Mercedes/Audi and Volkswagen.   I don’t like the new Volkswagens, have never been keen on any Mercedes other than the sports versions that I could probably never afford, Top Gear have said that an Audi is officially the car of the Cock these days…which leaves a BMW as my only realistic alternative.   The problem of course is that the BMW held the title of Cockmobile for so long, I wonder if it will regain its title soon after I buy.   Which takes me back to the Evo.   Such a great car..fast, full of electronics (me likey)…oh and did I say fast?

I have had some great cars in my time..not necessarily great cars, but great memories with them and therefore great cars to me.

My first was a pristine Morris Marina, which was older than me when my Mum and Dad presented it to me, one owner from new and immaculate.   All I remember really was that it had the capability to be run ragged and keep going.   It had a solid steel bumper and because the suspension comprised of these weird elastic band type things, the back end was quite high.   This led to a number of issues.   The first was when, on a winters night with the windows iced up, I reversed into my (soon to be) wifes neighbours car.     The question that was raised the next day to her was “Does Daves car have a towbar?”…which it didn’t..so I did the only thing I could do…I owned up and paid for the damage shook my head and commented on “dishonest bastards”.   The self same bumper also did about ?1000 worth of damage to a Ford Sierra that rear-ended me at traffic lights.   I pull up at some lights, and start to take a swig of my coke when, BANG, idiot smacks straight into the back of me.   I motion for him to pull over after the lights change and we both get out.   When I get to the back of my car, I notice the massive amount of damage to this guys car, seriously, the bumper was hanging off..the grill was completely wrecked and his bonnet was crumpled.   I think one or both of his headlights were knackered aswell.   I quickly look to my car…just in time to see a small fleck of rust wafting its way to the ground like a leaf in the autumn.   I didn’t feel the need to get the guys insurance details and I went on my merry way.

The constant abuse that I gave the car almost came back to hurt me though, when a bearing came loose from the gearbox and literally shot out of the side of the gearbox housing….it was only blind luck that it didn’t come into the car….

I had a Ford Sierra (other wise known as a Ford Clitoris..every cu…nah) a Vauxhall Nova that had the distinction of breaking down whenever I wanted to go anywhere, especially if there was any rain.   There was a Renault 19 that lasted pretty well, until some idiot joyriders smashed into Sarah when she was driving it home.   Come to think of it, they were driving a Sierra…I hate Sierras, or at least they hate me.

Then I had a black Peugeot 306 Turbo that tried to kill me on the way to work when all of the electrics failed at around 100MPH….meaning I couldn’t use the electrically assisted brakes.   This woudln’t have been too much of a problem except for the huge traffic jam a mile or so ahead of me…and all of the traffic around me that basically wouldn’t let me pull in.   In the end I had to use the handbrake to slow down and force my way across traffic to the hard shoulder…with black smoke pouring off my tires.   My lasting memory of that was phoning my bitch boss from hell at the time and telling her what had happened.   All she asked was “Well…how late are you going to be?”.   Nice.

I have already mentioned my next Peugeot, and just before I got the Alfa, I had a Ford Mondeo.   Although, just before the Mondeo was delivered I was driving around in a rented Vauxhall Vectra (sorry Top Gear) for a while…that Sarah reversed into a concrete wall one night.   Our driveway at the time was very long and had a (surprise) concrete wall along the length of it.   She was taking Lisa home on a very foggy night and when she started to reverse she asked Lisa if she was clear.   Lisa, thinking that she was referring to other cars, said yes.   Unfortunately, she was referring to the wall.   Cue acceleration and a loud noise, which put a sizeable scratch/dent combination into the passenger side.     A few weeks later, I am making sure the scratch/dent combination is covered in dirt as I had to give the car back to the rental company….fortunately the guy collecting the car was on the phone and didn’t notice..thanks to some crafty parking by me Wink

So there you have it, maybe I shouldn’t buy a car after all…it will only end up in disaster

Paypal…aaaaaaaargh

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Whilst I don’t consider myself a typical guy most of the time, I am accutely aware that I tend to be around Christmas time.   My usual Christmas gift purchases occur on or around Christmas eve, if I am completely honest.   Being single and away from my kids though, means I had to be more organised this year.   Unfortunately, that just meant I would start at the beginning of December instead.

Obviously, it is easier from here to get things on Ebay and get them delivered to my parents place, so that they can wrap and post them for me.   Getting them sent to me here, only for me to ship them back to England just makes no sense.   Plus, the availability of what the kids want is greater in the UK.

So far, so easy right?

Wrong.   My credit card is, shall we say, unavailable at the moment…which leaves me with the time honoured tradition of using the paypal direct debit facility.   This has worked for me for years and makes an instant payment (with the occasional couple days delay for random security checks).   It worked for me a couple of weeks ago when I sent my son his birthday present.   It even worked for me a few days ago, when I bought my nephew his present.

Then it stopped.   Paypal is now insisting that I use a credit card (which isn’t on my account) and won’t allow me to choose another source of payment.   Emails to paypal and ebay have resulted in them explaining to me how to add a credit card, telling me that I need to talk to my bank and then explaining how to add a credit card.   It is ok though, because they understand my frustration whilst offering as much help as a chocolate fire guard.   I will have my rewengy though, they sent me a survey for how helpful they were….I will now get to spew my vitriol into a webform that will be … COMPLETELY … ignored by Paypal management…I know I feel better.

So last night, LA came up trumps and let me use her paypal account to pay for everything…which means the pressies are winging their merry way now.   Thank fook.

I am looking to get some stuff from ze vaterland for the adults I will be visiting, but due to flying on the 23rd…I actually have to plan.   That means recovering and being compus enough on a Saturday to actually get to the shops…honestly, I think HMV gift vouchers from the airport when I land seems favourite right now Wink

The problem is what to get?   Let’s face it, I live in the land of pork and beer…but I don’t think that people will appreciate a string of sausages and a can of Warsteiner….plus the sausages would go off, unless I get pre-cooked ones..which I am then certain to consume at the airport…along with the beer.

Do I get Lederhosen and Dirndls?   I could do without the inevitable beating that would take place.   I could go for something that is already available in England…just with German writing on it.   I have already been told, on pain of death, not to bring Lebekuchen from the Christmas market…what is a guy to do?

Looks like I will actually have to trawl the Christmas market looking for actual and traditional German christmas gifts.   I wasn’t aware that growing up was so bloody tough…I mean, who buys proper gifts, that people can put on display?   Old people, that’s who.   No fair.

So, 5 Kilos of Lebekuchen, a few bottles of beer and a couple pound of Bratwurst it is then.

Enjoy Smile

What a weekend :)

Me and the broodWell, I am back from blighty (Britain to you non-natives out there) and I had a wonderful time.   I still managed to put almost 1000 miles on the hire car…seems to be my lot in life I guess.   What I did have though was an amazing weekend with my 4 (count ’em) amazing kids.

Not a single harsh word was needed, they were all amazing well behaved and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.   All of the stresses of recent times just evaporated when I got to hold them and spend time with them.   The best of it though, was just spending quality time with all of them.   I had planned to go bowling, to parks, do this and that and the other….it was going to be a full and packed weekend.   When I saw them though, I realised that I didn’t need any of those distractions.

We were out and about, visiting my brothers and sister in law with my amazing nephew Josh.   I have since been told that he is like it with most blokes, but I made an instant connection to Josh and he would cry whenever I left.   Quite nice really as I am inherently bad with other peoples kids, if they are related to me or not, but Josh was different..such a placid and nicely mannered boy for his age.   I got to see him walk, which he has only just started doing…which was cool Smile

I resolutely refused to allow Ellen to be “Little Mum” like she always used to end up being whenever she has visited me in the past.   I looked after all of the kids, properly, and enjoyed every minute of it.   I think they enjoyed it too.   Don’t get me wrong, I know Ellen loves to mother people and be involved, but she is a kid too and deserves to be spoilt like the others.   I treated them all to some useful sports stuff for school/after school activities, rather than trinkets that they won’t use in a week.   We played, we laughed, we cuddled up and watched a movie, went to the park, went for a walk, played rugby in the garden.   We just generally had fun together and for my part I got to reconnect with my children and loved every moment.

It is a strange life as an estranged father, but I intend to make the most of it whenever I can.   I absolutely refused to fall into my past routine of spending time on the computer and leaving the kids to their own devices.   I think I was on Facebook for a total of about 20 minutes, and I checked my email about 3 times…and I didn’t get the shakes – go me Smile .   I made sure that we only visited my family a few minutes away from where we were, as I didn’t want to waste time travelling and then be distracted by spending time with friends and not the kids.   We were all up at the crack of sparrows and went to bed quite late each day (not too late though Wink )

None of the kids wanted to go home, and I agreed as it was far too short of a visit…something I will rectify for next time definitely.   Obviously I have to work around their holidays now to make sure I can have a week or two with them next time, but do that I will.   Tears were shed by everyone, but I know with complete certainty that they all genuinely love me and miss me, and I hope they know that I miss them all so much it is heartbreaking for me.

I did have to put up with some shocking music in the car, some eurodancetrashpopdrumbasehouse nonsense that they seem to like.   However, they are my kids afterall….which meant by the end of the weekend, they were all asking for The Wombats, Maximo Park and Dragonforce to be played so that they could all air guitar and air drum their way to wherever we were going.   Hey!   Kids need decent music too you know….and at least mine have taste….even if it is ruined by technogarageshed garbage from time to time.

Normal posting will resume shortly, I just wanted to share the best weekend I have had in a bloody long time Smile