Slapping Balls in Singapore

January 22, 2019 at 11:25 am (Travel) (, , , )

I decided that the best way to finish nine years of overseas adventures, was to go play some hockey!  I headed home to Melbourne via Singapore to play with the Shanghai Dragons at ZOAT, a Dutch hockey competition.  My whole return leg was planned around the tournament and I don’t think I could have had a better send off.  This was topped off by both Silass and Onny pulling some strings and making it to the tournament too.

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ZOAT is full side tournament and it was fun playing in an all female team instead of attempting to outsmart and being beaten by the speedy men.  There were some familiar faces in the team, but also some completely new ones.  I soon slotted in and ended up being a starting fixture in left field, which was a testament to the amount of running I did over my trip.  We played strong and had some great games, narrowly losing in a penalty shoot out for a spot in the final.

We ended up coming third although the eventual winners felt we were the strongest team they played.  A storm had interrupted our game and had resulted in the penalty shoot out.  The men, however, won the tournament and we just partied with them as if we had ourselves!

img_9028Party Kate was certainly in true form over the weekend.  I had a smile on my face the whole time (apart from when my foot was playing up) and had heaps of fun singing, dancing and getting to know new friends.  Saturday night I was one of the last Shanghai ladies home after getting mixed up with some of the men and ending up at a very interesting and well known Singaporean establishment.  Absolutely brilliant!

All in all, it was a great weekend of friendship and hockey.  I’ll be doing my upmost to join in the tournament again.  It was well organised, lots of fun and made absolutely memorable by the wonderful Shanghai Dragons!  I couldn’t think of a better way to finish this chapter of my life.  Mixing hockey and living overseas has truly moulded me, not only as a player, but also as an individual.  Thank you TEC Darmstadt, Stuttgart Kickers and the Shanghai Dragons for your love and support over the past nine years.

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Just as hockey has being a big part of my overseas life, I am looking forward to having the hockey family support back in Melbourne.  It’s back to my roots and Southern United for me.  xoxo

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The Motherland – Part 2

January 5, 2019 at 9:05 am (Travel) (, , , , , )

IMG_8908After a short visit to Nunnington Hall, a beautiful country house located in North Yorkshire, we arrived in Scarborough my mother’s home town.  Visiting Scarborough is always a highlight and full of mum’s memories.  I’ve visited so many times over the years and even spent some wonderful Christmases there, so it certainly has a special place in both our hearts.  This time, through the amazing world of DNA testing, mum met up with an unknown cousin just outside of York.  Cousin Simon went with her and they had a lovely day discussing family history and Grandma Millman.  I on the the other hand took a much needed break from family stories and concentrated on job applications and interviews

IMG_9264Other highlights included walks along the seaside, spending time with family and taking part in the Dalby Forest Park Run.  We also enjoyed a visit to Alpamare water park.  Last time we were in Scarborough we had taken a tour of its construction site so we were keen to check it out ourselves.  My cousin Vicki manages the complex so her and her daughter joined us.  I managed to get mum down two of the slides which was no mean feat and we enjoyed relaxing in the outside heated pool with a beer.

IMG_0280Nottingham to visit mum’s university friend Chris, was next on our list.  We went for our traditional Indian meal, wandered around Nottingham and visited Great Uncle Bill.  Mum put her foot down and made me buy a pair of trail running shoes for the upcoming North Yorkshire Moors Half Marathon, which I must admit I was thankful for in the end.  We also spent an hour in Primark looking for Harry Potter paraphernalia for mum’s cub camp.  It’s amazing how much you can find if you cross check across all of the different departments!  In Oxford we even visited Primark again to pick up a missing Hogwarts House tea towel set.

We weren’t just in Oxford for Primark though, we visited my long time friend Suzie and I finally got to see her gorgeous flat and catch up with all her news.  Mum only spent one night in Oxford before heading back to Heathrow but I had two nights.  I spent my first mum-less day visiting an amazing exhibition about Tolkein.  It included drafts and hand-drawn pictures from both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and was absolutely fascinating.

IMG_8970A Suzie and Kate tradition is to run a race together while I am visiting her.  For the first time, I had picked out the event and decided on a slightly longer distance than usual.  The North Yorkshire Moors Half Marathon appealed to me because I love that coastline and it has strong connections to my mother and the walking she did as a child and young adult.  I knew the route would be spectacular and also challenging.  I wasn’t too impressed when Suzie pointed out that it was actually a 15mile race which is approximately 24km, and about 3km longer than a half marathon.  Oh well!

We had the most amazing day for the race with beautiful blue skies and sunshine.  The event was well organised and not brimming with people with a real family feel.  I loved the fact that the water stations didn’t provide cups and that the participants had to fill up their bottles from a large water container.  We also took handfuls of chips or jellybeans, reducing the impact we were having on the environment.

It was also nice to run the race together, something we had never done before because Suzie is a Speedy Gonzales.  It was slow going as we were running at my pace but I think Suzie appreciated my sheer determination and constant plodding at a time when she wasn’t sure she had the kms in her legs to complete the race. (I did tell she was being ridiculous but what would I know, right?)

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We rewarded ourselves with a beautiful tea house late lunch and fish n chips for dinner.  Scarborough has the best in the country if you ask me!  It was a rewarding race and one that I can absolutely recommend.  Endurance Life did a fabulous job and if you are in the UK I would suggest having a look at some of their other events.  They all look amazing!  I’ve run a lot of races now across quite a few different countries and this was hands down the best organised and most beautiful run.  It will be hard to top in the future!

We caught up with the family for a Sunday walk and I said my goodbyes to Suzie.  She headed back to Oxford and I made my way to Thirsk after spending the afternoon shopping with Vicki and her family.  Sarah and I have managed to catch up most visits I have had to Yorkshire since she left Seeheim.  It’s been a really grounding and important catch up for both of us and I always really look forward to them.

IMG_8994Of course, a trip to England would not be complete without finishing with a couple of days in London.  I had time for some final goodbyes with Rob, Kathy, Debbie, Mish and of course my Aunt Frances, all of whom have been an amazing part of my overseas adventures.  Kathy and I saw Kinky Boots together, which was actually better than I thought it would be, and stumbled across some amazing flower clothing sculptures at Convent Garden.

I said my final goodbyes to the motherland and to my 2018 European adventure.  There are many places that feel like home and both London and Scarborough will always have a place in my heart.  Who knows when I will be back?

xoxo

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The Motherland – Part 1

November 24, 2018 at 11:36 am (Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

It wouldn’t be summer in Europe without a whirlwind trip to visit family and friends in England.  By now, mum and I have a pretty set route, except this year it went backwards and included a wedding in the Lakes District.  Copious cups of tea were drunk and I was soon sick of family history, but as always the motherland did not disappoint and I loved catching up with family and friends from lots of different parts of my life.

IMG_8838Mum and I started the trip in London.  I made use of my first day without her by going for a run, spending time with my aunt and catching up with Rob of Darmstadt fame. We spoiled ourselves with a rather spontaneous decision to go for dinner at the Shard. We were lucky to get a last minute booking at the Aqua Shard restaurant on the 31st floor and had an amazing dinner looking out over the River Thames. The food was scrumptious, the conversation flowed… Seriously a once in a lifetime experience and a brilliant way to begin my England trip!

IMG_0098In London, we stayed with my Aunt Frances (of course) and spent a lovely morning exploring the Horniman Museum with her.  This museum has its own aquarium with seahorses as well as an interesting collection of stuffed animals.  We spend the afternoon shopping for shoes for the wedding on Oxford Street which was simply horrendous.  Luckily, we managed to find a gorgeous sparkly pair at Irregular Choice.  They have wonderful quirky designs and actually make shoes in small people sizes.

Tradition is tradition, so of course we had to see a show!  This year 42nd Street with my friend Deb was on the menu.  It was a toe tapping delight with an amazing amount of clothing changes.  It really was fabulous to see tap dancing back on the center stage and I had forgotten how many of the songs from the musical I knew I loved.  I mean come on… Lullabye of Broadway is simply a classic.

I also kept my running up participating in the Herne Hill Park Run, where I got a standing ovation for being from Australia.  On another day, after having a Sunday roast with my beautiful friend Mish who I worked with in Stuttgart, I ran from Vauxhill back to Herne Hill.  It was a great way to explore the area of London that Frances lives in and amusing too as I managed to get myself quite lost on a number of occasions.

We picked up the car from Heathrow and headed out to Wales to visit my mum’s Aunt, my Great Aunt, Judith.  After a minor hiccup (we decided not to heed the closed road sign) we arrived and spent two lovely nights at her converted barn.  It was family history galore when we met Judith’s niece Ruth, who mum and I had heard lots about.  She was absolutely lovely and we spent ages chatting over tea with a magnificent view.

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When mum, Judith and I are altogether, it’s three generations of the Alderson side of our family.  There’s not much doubting this when you at look at photo of the three of us together.  What I find even more amazing, is that we all have a love for cryptic crosswords and one of my favourite moments of the trip was the three of us, all on various different devices, asking each other for help to solve our crosswords.

The next stop was Cockermouth in the Lakes District for my second cousin’s wedding.  We spent four days in the area which was absolutely lovely.  We walked, I ran (not as often as I should have), spent time with family and enjoyed a stunning wedding.  We particularly enjoyed a walk around Lake Buttermere that the bride and groom has organised for their guests.  Not only did the walk offer beautiful views but it gave us the opportunity to get to know some of the guests better.

IMG_8892Next up was two nights at Whitley Bay near Newcastle to visit mum’s cousin John who spoiled us with two lovely dinners out including one with his son and family who made a special effort to come and see us.  Mum and John spent the day together walking and I got to catch up with Brook.  He took me to Barter Books for lunch, which is an amazing second hand bookstore that has a model train going round it.  Very, very cool.  It’s actually where the saying “Keep Calm and Carry on” was penned.  I promised myself no book purchases until I found two old Ladybook books titled Cubs and Scouts.  I just HAD to buy them for mum.

One of the highlights of our trip for me was our stop at Hadrian’s Wall on our way up to Whitley Bay.  For nearly 300 years, this wall was the north-eastern boundary for the Roman Empire and is approximately 73 miles (117.5 km) long.  Built in 128AD it is probably the second most famous wall after the Great Wall of China AND I got to walk both of them in the same year.  How cool is that?

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Stay tuned for more English adventures…

xoxo

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A Whirlwind Tour of Germany

November 9, 2018 at 6:47 am (Germany) (, , , , , , )

After France it was back to Germany and a crazy whirlwind tour through the country to try and see as many friendly faces as possible.

Leipzig

I was curious to finally visit the eastern Germany city of Leipzig where both Leon and Gwen are studying medicine.  The city feels much more alternative than others that I am more familiar with in the south.  You can see this in clothing and style choices, graffiti and just feel it in the general atmosphere.  I was impressed with the openness that same sex couples showed and was surprised that nearly every second person had a beer in their hand.  There is also an impressive amount of greenery in the city.  I can see why both Gwen and Leon are enjoying living there.

I stayed with Leon in his very student WG (flat share).  He and his other flat mates were very accommodating (especially as I had forgotten to give him my arrival details until the morning of my arrival…ooops!)  He took me on a tour of the main sites, always knew somewhere good to eat and was full of interesting information about his university city.  I particularly enjoyed kayaking down the canal with him, even if I was atrocious at steering the kayak by myself.

IMG_8639With some prodding I finally got Gwen to agree to have dinner with me as she was busy studying for an important series of exams.  We quickly got back into our usual banter and it was great to catch up and swap stories.  She even managed to have lunch with me before I left on my last night.  We weren’t able to play any hockey but we did manage some ice cream and shopping instead!

I did do some touristy things in the city.  I visited both the St Thomas and St Nikolas churches, saw the market place, the opera house and enjoyed wandering the various arcades.  I tried running to the Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal) but didn’t quite have the kilometres or the time so I headed out on the tram to marvel at the 91m high structure.  The monument commemorates the end of the Battle of Leipzig/Battle of the Nations in 1813.  This is where Napoleon I was defeated by the coalition armies led by Tsar Alexander I and Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg.  The structure towers over the park and offers a stunning view of Lepzig.

Berlin

In Berlin, the catch ups continued but not so much the touristy aspect.  I did manage to run around Schloss Charlottenburg and along the river.  We also visited Stone Brewery, which was nice and fancy but also American rather than German.  This all didn’t matter because of the wonderful company I had.

I stayed with my Renette who has recently moved there to be with her partner.  We worked together in Stuttgart and have always kept in contact, especially through the job search connection and our love of planning holidays.  It was great catching up, hearing about her new school and seeing how happy and excited she is to be living with Tom.  Another friend of ours, Jaimi, also came and hung out which was awesome.  She is leaving Europe and starting a new chapter of her life, which is really exciting but as always, heartbreaking in some ways.  Catching up with her was not on my radar so it was an unexpected but most welcome surprise.

IMG_8670I also spent a lovely afternoon paddle boarding with Tanja who had been a teacher with me in Suzhou.  In glorious weather, we got help from a Buck’s Day to pump up the board and spent the afternoon lazing in the sun with a beer.  Such a special thing to experience and completely off the normal Berlin tourist trail!

Marburg

This is where my whole overseas adventure nine years ago began so it was essential to go play some Phase 10 with Rabea and Sandy.  Some serious hill climbing running was on the agenda as well as a paddle boat ride down the Lahn.

Day Trip to Darmstadt

I stopped off in Darmstadt to catch up with two friends who I knew wouldn’t be around when I was back in the city.  The town still feels amazingly like home and has hardly changed in the four years I haven’t lived there.  It was lovely seeing Astrid and hearing about her upcoming trip to volunteer in South Africa.  So proud of her for getting out of her comfort zone and trying something new.  I also got to see Kerstin and meet her new arrival.  Loved having a cuddle and catching up on all her news.

Heidelberg

IMG_8701Onwards to visit Danny, Peer and Emil in Heidelberg.  Peer was my hockey coach in Darmstadt and him and his family became my Darmstadt family.  We’ve always stayed close and I was super excited to stay a few days with them.  Peer cooked my favourite meal and even baked the German Christmas biscuits Vanillekiperl even though it was the middle of summer.  A highlight of my visit was trying (and failing miserably) at rowing along the Neckar with Heidelberg castle looking down at us.  Visiting the Mays always feels like coming ‘home’ in a way and I am hoping that next time it will be them visiting me in my home.  🙂

Illingen

After a small miscommunication where I thought I was headed to Tübingen because I didn’t realise they had moved, I arrived in Illingen eager to meet Norá and Simon’s two children.  Both were born in the two years I spent in China, with Thomas being only weeks old.  The older, in particular took a liking to Charliebear and even insisted that he joined us for my run/their bike ride.  Very cute indeed.  I loved having some quality family time with them and getting lots of cuddles from both boys.

Karlsruhe

I spent a night visiting my old flate mate Anshelm in Karlsruhe.  We lived together in Stuttgart and always got on swimmingly.  He took me to a public viewing of the Dota International 2018 which was certainly an interesting experience.  There would have been about 200 hundred people cheering the gamers on at the public viewing.  The game was a little bit too complicated for me, but I can respect the skills that the gamers have in working together and using tactics.

We also went to the Karlsruhe Schlosslichtspiele.  This is a free event run over summer where every evening the Karlsruhe Palace is lit up by a series of five to ten minute films.  These were thought provoking, captivating and very clever.  I watched spellbound even though I was freezing my but off!

Stuttgart

I headed back to Stuttgart for another couple of days in my old city and have to admit to STILL not having been to the Mercedes Museum.  That was my number one priority going to visit and didn’t even find time.  That’s because I was so busy making sure I got to see everybody.

IMG_8730I stayed with Natalie and we managed to squeeze in two runs as well as some Mario time.  She was a brilliant host, especially as I was here and there visiting people all the time.  I made sure I got to see Stephie as much as possible, caught up with Killi again, spent time with Chris, had a lovely morning with Andrea who was the lady I replaced with I started at ISS and visited everybody at school.  I simply needed MORE time.  Note to self, at LEAST a week next time I am in Stuttgart.

One highlight was an evening with the Aussies in Stuttgart group.  We had such banter as we talked about all the different things we have been doing.  It truly felt like I had never been away.

Darmstadt – Hash Weekend – Darmstadt – Goodbye Germany

I sandwiched my time in Darmstadt with a crazy Hash weekend with the S.H.I.T.S Frankfurt group.  We had a very long but beautiful trail through the Oldenwald and it was great getting to meet hashers based in Germany.  I particularly enjoyed getting to hash with Elke who I had worked with in Seeheim.  She did an amazing job of putting the enjoyable weekend together.

IMG_8750Otherwise, it was only fitting that I finished my tour of Germany in Darmstadt.  I didn’t do a particularly good job of planning my time though because Katha was ultra busy and Fiona was away for most of the week.  I did get to spend time with both of them though and am very thankful for it.  Fiona is even contemplating coming to visit which would be ultra exciting.

I also caught up with lots of other people too.  I had a long lunch chat with Rob as well as visiting Emma and Pete.  We had a lovely barbecue dinner and through out the night each of her three daughters turned up which was an absolute bonus.  I went and saw Gwen’s parents for an evening and had my nails done in town with her sister Constanze who I used to tutor.  Luke, from the Australia crew, came up and had dinner with me all the way from Stuttgart one evening too.  We had missed each other when I was in the city and I was blown away with his effort to come and see me.

I spent an afternoon down at my old school in Seeheim and got recognised before I had even gotten on school grounds!  It was fun surprising everybody and catching up with all my teaching buddies.  In particular, seeing Martin, Julie, Michelle and Lain was very special even if we really didn’t have enough time for a proper chat.

I hadn’t realised how many students I would still know at the school.  My first group of Grade 5s graduate this school year!  Some faces I knew the names instantly, and others I needed help with but it’s nice to know that none of them had forgotten me quite yet.

Instead of staying with Fiona, I stayed down in Griesheim with Anneli and Gregor.  This worked really well because it meant I got lots of time to hang out with them even though they were both working.  I explored the Griesheim forest on my runs, watched lots of tennis and discussed their upcoming trip around the world which sounds absolutely AMAZING.

With the continental part of my trip over, it was time to fly to the motherland to meet my mother and start the England tour.  As I sat on the plane, I reflected on the truly wonderful friendships I made in Germany.  Friendships that are still strong after time away and are still so important to me and the person that I have become.

I think the bottom line is… I’ll always have Heimweh when I think of Germany.

xoxo

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Crashing the Family Holiday in France

November 2, 2018 at 10:46 am (Travel) (, , )

I spent six glorious days camping on the French Atlantic coast with my good friend Chris and her family.  Chris and I worked together in Stuttgart and have a tradition where we always share a bottle of Möet when we meet up again.  Her family was lovely enough to let me crash their holidays and enjoy the beautiful coastal village Moliets-et-Maa.

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Camping with Family Meinck was like a holiday from my own holiday.  I tend to do things at a million miles per hour and try to cram too much in to my day, never allowing for enough down time.  With the Meincks, everything slowed down and happened leisurely.  Nothing was stressful and the days rolled by calmly.

4050d6c5-b41d-49c2-9f34-a6dc434d7608The campsite was only a stone’s throw from the beach and we made as much use of it as possible.  I also kept up my running, enjoyed reading in the hammock and Chris’ amazing camp inspired meals.  I played more Yahtzee than I have in a very long time and loved being the ‘the eighteen year old daughter.’  Feeling like you are part of the family is really special when you travel and Family Meinck could not have been more welcoming.

One day we went canoeing down a nearby river which was spectacular.  The ride included some very small rapids and Lucy and I hit every possible log until we finally got the hang of it.  This resulted in much fun and laughter.  At one point we got stuck on a rock, at another accidentally bumped into Chris and Olli and sent them into the water.  (Olli blamed his mum instead of us which was lucky)  IMG_8578The route had quite a lot of low hanging branches and we also famously steered our way limbo style under more than just a few of them.

Other activities included visiting a natural made cave, having lunch in Spain and one afternoon we even participated in a Mojito making workshop!  The whole thing was presented in French but we made it work and absolutely enjoyed ourselves.  We also survived quite a fierce storm at the campsite.  At one point Chris experienced ‘walking on water’ in the main tent where there was a ground sheet, and the kitchen area revealed a waterline of about 15cm the next morning where there wasn’t.  I managed to keep everything in my tent fairly dry but at one point the tent was shaking quite violently.

On my last night we watched the sunset from the sand dunes with a glass of wine.  It was the perfect way to reflect on the trip and be truly thankful for the laughter, fun times and sunshine.  Thank you Chris, Peter, Olli and Lucy for having me.

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xoxo

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