Category Archives: For All The Cows

For All The Cows: I’m back here I guess…

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Three tins of Red Stripe*, a failed bet (sorry, bets) and awaiting news of a job I have diminishing hope of getting and I’m just about in prime territory for writing. Yeah, throw in a Friday night alone with Radio 6, 4od and frozen pizza and I have all the ingredients for a semi-structured, completely unrelated to anything I’ve just listed, blog entry. All I need now is to post pictures of my dinner and I’ll be near enough suicide. So where do I go from here? Well since my last post was about Belgian beer and I’ve gotten as far as Jamaican lager then I can’t envision much progress. Still, at least that’s somewhere to go from. Will I try to meet somewhere half way? Will I stop asking myself rhetorical questions? Will I ever buy any other frozen pizza other than Ristorante? You bet your arse I won’t.

Travel on the mind.

Literally the view from my laptop.

Literally the view from my laptop.

On the 3rd of November it will be five years to the day that I packed my not so little backpack, pushed back the tears and left Aberdeen to travel for the first time. I wouldn’t have thought that particular day in the calendar would mean that much to me but in all honesty, I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. My better half and I will be in Paris that weekend and being the sentimental guy I sometimes am, I would like to celebrate it by visiting the Eiffel tower and cracking open a bottle of wine. Now, I’ve been back in Scotland for a year and half now and even been back in Aberdeen for five months of those five but I can honestly say that there is hardly a day goes by where I don’t think of leaving again. And although I have thought and done in the past, I will just have to sit on such thoughts this time around – at least for the time being. I’ll be writing a sick inducing nostalgic entry for the third so if you can’t get enough self vanity, set your reminder for then.

Work to be done.

I started a new job in April which I am really enjoying as a Support Worker, working with homeless adults in supported accommodation. Ironically, I could do with some support myself but I must have failed to mention that at the interview. Regardless, I’m really enjoying it and sincerely think it’s the right job for me. Problem being, I’m only contracted part-time so find myself running around Edinburgh covering shifts in other projects to pay the rent. I realize the importance of a good reference now and finally realize that I need some balance in my life as well as the start of something serious on the job front. Although I’ve worked for a lot of places, in truth, a two-year old could draw all over paper with a green crayon and still create a more credible CV than mine. Time to buckle down and earn a reference/experience in something other than Head Cappuccino Making and Executive Chip Fryer. Although do look out for those jobs on Gumtree. I heard Glasgow is seeking skilled chip fryers for the Commonwealth games.

Needless to say, I am going and I’m tailor made for that role. I’ve retired from track and field.

I Could probably predict the future…

With the other half pegged down for a two-year contract at work and settled now in Edinburgh, it gives me time to focus on my job. I’m hopeful to land a full-time position within the company and would be unfortunate/have no one to blame but myself if I didn’t nail it down. We have been reading off of different pages when it comes to future plans thus far but have amicably agreed that if we were to travel extensively again, it would have to tie in with some sort of job prospects related to what we’re doing now. Hypothetically, I could walk around Bondi beach, offering housing support to backpackers that have spent their last cent but in that will never happen – I hate doing paperwork in the sun…

Realistically one of four thing’s are likely to happen: We end up moving back to Germany; We move down South to London; We travel then use a working visa abroad – i.e.- Canada; We stay in Edinburgh for longer. Simple! Next stop, a house and children and a five door car, but only if I still get to watch wrestling – that’s the deal. Who said life was complicated?

What else is new?

  • Remember I went to college because I thought it would be important to come back to education? Overall it was a waste of fucking time but I did get a grade out of it. I failed Higher German (poor attendance, terrible class structure and a really bad teacher that looked nothing like Cameron Diaz) but I passed Higher English and got an A. In all honesty, it was a great class even though I was the older student who sat at the back hungover and looked like a perv. The problem being with college is that I wanted to do nothing with it, therefore, there was not really any point of me being there. I didn’t want to get into University like most of my class or gain extra highers. I just wanted to do something I enjoyed and be rewarded for it even if it meant I had to work less. So waste of fucking time? Well yes but you know what, I needed it. I thought some sort of study would be good for me and, on reflection, it was. Reading The Great Gatsby over and over, being forced to write for hours and turkey burgers on paper plates – I had no idea what I was missing.
  • After a five-year absence I will be coming home for Christmas: I’ve not been in the country the last five years so it’s not as if I’m the selfish, ungrateful son who has turned his back on his family but still, five years is long enough. Expect a night out on the cards for my birthday on the 27th. I thank the both of you in advance for turning up and you both looked splendid in your new cardigans.

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  • Leaving my worst South African accent at the door, I flew over to Johanesburg in August for my cousin’s wedding. It’s probably something that I’ll go into another time but it was quite a humbling experience spending time with family who you rarely see but who love you so much and are so happy to see you. I was well looked after and truly welcomed with open arms. Being a large chunk of my dad’s heritage, it was a long overdue trip but was incredibly worthwhile.
  • My phone’s knackered – Angry birds? I’m fucking raging.
  • Oh and I ate this. Impressed? Didn’t think so.

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*Make that five.

 


For All The Cows – One Step Forward.

Although the last few years have been beyond my expectations, It wasn’t until I opened up a little – to myself and to others – about where my life was going, that it began to finally sink in that I needed to readjust my focus. Travel has and will be a big part of my life from here on end, as long as I am fortunate enough to do so. But coming home from being on such a roll, to slowly jolting to a complete stop, wasn’t easy to get my head around – I enjoyed my freedom and I never wanted it to end. However, as the old cliché goes, all good things must come to an end and I can now officially say, with a heavy heart, that this stint of travel is now behind me but someday, I will be back for more. For now, I’m here to stay and, in truth, I’m okay with it.

Give or take a few months, I have been working in hospitality for ten years, most of which has been full-time. For someone in their thirties this is quite long, but for someone at the age of twenty Seven, this is far too long. Through a string of broken promises to myself, I have stalled on getting out for a long time. But to be fair, I can’t knock it: through hell and high water, minimum wage boosted with jars of coins, ‘DARREN’ marked tip bags and the money saved by getting my hands on as much free food I could handle, has gotten me round the world and back: fact. But since coming home, I’ve never been so cynical and dissatisfied with what I do and to some extent, what I don’t do. As the months have passed, I’ve found myself going backwards and to be honest, I have become somewhat unhappy. Alas, here I still am, serving tables, wasting time and becoming more and more impatient day by day, as the constant demand of tourists chops me down, down, down. This is not where I want to be.

As for my own personal development? I wish I could tell you the answer. I desperately need to do something different with my life, and I have to push that forward in the New Year as opposed to just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. It’s only a matter of time for me. However now, more than ever, it’s important I use that time wisely – December, 2012.

I spent the majority of January getting increasingly frustrated with myself. I ploughed through job sites for ten minutes then got lost in923 You-tube watching videos of drunk racists on public transport for the remainder of the hour. Add in wrestling, Gumtree and a thousand and one articles on ‘career changes’ and you can begin to build a picture of what 2013 had met me with. It wasn’t until the tail end of January that enough was enough: Petra had been carefully nudging me along but I was still somewhat hesitant. It wasn’t until we went out for dinner with my mother one evening that I received that final nudge that would help me progress forward. I mentioned at dinner that I thought about going into support work. I explained that I needed a job that would still involve working with people but wouldn’t be so thankless. Like a moth to a flame she zoned in, as herself and Petra began systematically breaking me down and building me back up with encouragement, praise and approval as I played with my sachet of brown sugar and listened intently as I stared into my coffee cup.

The following morning, I applied for a position as an ‘Assistant Support Worker’ at a local unit in Leith. The job would involve working with adults with difficulties ranging from homelessness to depression – every tenant is different in terms of their circumstances. This would be the first job out with hospitality that I’d have applied for in quite some time. I held out little hope, however  I was open and honest in my application, just as my company was at dinner the night before. Perhaps support work would be my calling. I didn’t know. But at least now I knew it was time to find out. I was finally ready.

Around a week or two later on a break from work, I came home for lunch and found myself standing in the usual scatter of mail. Amid the take away menus and bills, I found a brown envelope marked in my name. It was stamped from the job I applied for. I promptly opened it there and then and began to skim read. I was invited for an interview. Excitedly, I confirmed my attendance and looked forward to the day.

The interview soon came and went and all things considered, (lack of experience, the high amount of applicants and little knowledge of the line of work) I felt like it went well. In fact, I don’t think I could have done any better if I was to do it again today. A positive, encouraging experience but I didn’t hold out hope in getting the job.

I was setting up the restaurant on a Monday morning – as I do every Monday – when I got the call. I had gotten the job that I was so sure I didn’t get. I was overwhelmed by the news and unashamedly cried when I got off the phone. I felt flattered, shocked and grateful that someone had faith and was willing to take a punt on me. I’m a somewhat emotional and personal person (no shit I hear you saying…) and that phone call, really did mean the world to me. This would be the start of a potential career, the start of something new and the end of an era.

As I carried on half-heartedly aligning place mats with cutlery, I instantly felt like a huge weight was off my shoulders. I wanted a change so badly and I guess my reaction reaffirmed that. I was struggling with the idea of not traveling again for a while and although for now I may be grounded, in a strange way I felt like I was on the move. This was one step forward and the beginning of a whole new journey. A journey that was completely unexpected.


For All The Cows: 2012 – A Year In Review.

The year the world was meant to end was also the year I came back to Scotland, with the intentions of getting my act together. Achieved? Well, no, not really: 2012 was a bit of a mixed bag but exciting none the less. I managed to pack in some travel as well as set up base somewhere new: Edinburgh, to which for a change, I still reside:

January:

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Petra and I had been travelling three months prior and had just finished a rain sodden trip through Malaysia. With the beach in mind, we skipped the last part of our travel in Borneo, and made our way for the guaranteed sun of Thailand: The majority of January was spent lying on the beach in beautiful Koh Lanta, eating food and reading my first book over 500 pages: A milestone in itself (Yeah, I know…)

February:

845We would be saying goodbye to our trip in Singapore, which seemed fitting since we started our trip in another awe inspiring city: New York: The last couple of days were spent catching up with an old friend, reflecting on the success of the trip as a whole, and getting in some last minute cheap but delicious eats and feel good sunshine. We love the food in Asia, and my year long Winter plumage can attest to that.                                                                                           

March:

Although back home with a bang, March held it’s own excitement: I had moved into a hostel in the P1270013centre of Edinburgh – sleeping in an eight man dorm room – whilst I looked for a job and a flat; Petra remained in Germany until further notice. It was slim pickings across the board, and luck was certainly not on my side. It began to sink in that, for now, the travel dream was over: It was becoming disheartening in the capital. After a couple of weeks of searching, my luck was to change and I had found a place in Leith. Not just any old place: A place that was perfect for me and more importantly, perfect for Petra. The next stage of my life was about to begin.

April:

DSCF5578The flat situation was sorted and Petra had flown over: We were settling in fine, and for me – at least – the job front was turning out okay as well: I started to work at a seafood restaurant, in the heart of the city centre called ‘The Mussel Inn’. I wasn’t too happy that I was back to doing what I had always done but for the moment, paying the rent came as a priority. I fitted in fine, albeit, a bit slow off the mark: It had been a while since I had worked in somewhere as busy and my head was still on the beach in Thailand.

May:

The year began on a high but was slowly turning on it’s head: Petra was finding it hard to pin down 923work (even interviews…) and she was becoming increasingly unhappy, having a knock on effect on me. But after weeks of hearing nothing, her luck was to change and an offer from Amazon came in: Not the best of positions but a job none the less and with a good company: A job that was badly needed; A job that was welcomed with open arms; And a job that would essentially settle us in Edinburgh.

June:

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It was the start of the Summer with nothing much worth of note: I continued to work anti-social hours whilst Petra settled in to the ‘nine to five’ working life. No money for a Summer holiday but I was starting to think about what I would do in the coming months: Would I go back to long overdue study or begin to search for a job with career prospects?

July:

A weekend off from an ever-increasingly busy restaurant was on the cards, so I decided to head down to leeds-131London to visit friends: Managing to find some sun and and a club on the Friday night, I went a little too hard and was a complete write off for all of Saturday, falling asleep in the graveyard next to Borough market and going back to bed shortly after. Buying a drink for a fiver and only eating the ice cubes says it all…

August:

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It was festival time in Edinburgh, and as well as Petra’s, it was also my first. The city is transformed from being littered with rage inducing tourists to being littered with rage inducing tourists coupled with punch-bag-worthy hipsters. Still, it was fantastic: Our first proper introduction to what Edinburgh can offer, and we loved it. Highlights included Richard Herring: Talking C**k, The Boy With Tape On His Face and seeing one of my heroes Mick Foley in the flesh: You know how they say you should never meet your heroes? Well, that stood true for me. Under whelmed summed that experience up, not helped by a rowdy, under appreciative crowd.

September:

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After much deliberation I had decided to meet somewhere in the middle of work and education and took the plunge to go back to college part-time to study Higher English and Higher German, as well as a short course on a Thursday evening studying Journalism at Edinburgh Uni. Let’s take the good first: Study keeps my brain ticking over, I’m genuinely interested in the topics I’m studying despite no plans for University, and it keeps me away from work for three days a week. The negative? Sitting on the bus for two hours, not receiving a bursary and slumming it with the teenagers who are more interested in their smart phones than education. Oh, and the food is terrible.

September was also the month that Petra found a great job at Edinburgh Napier University: A job with great prospects and a job that will continue her education in Scotland. She finds it hard work but ultimately rewarding; She is doing well and deserves it.

October:

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Another weekend away, accept this time I took Petra with me. In fact, Petra picked the destination: Barcelona. A weekend that had promised torrential rain, instead remained dry throughout the day and soaking throughout the night so I guess luck was on our side. A beautiful city with a lot to offer and a much needed break from the capital. Prosecco you say? Yeah, a bit too much…

November:

A month of pure procrastinating. My job patience is wearing thin, my German class sucks big time and IWhen reading this book, I actually found a red paper clip on the floor of the train. What's the chances? (No don't be silly. Of course I'm not going to talk about the actual book...) have little to no time to do much out with both of those things. What time I do have is spent with recyclable bags at Tesco, attempting to write with little to no motivation and blasting music into my ears as loud as I can to forget how pissed off I am with everything. But hey, such is life…

December:

2012-12-27 21.08.35I jumped at the opportunity to come back to Germany with Petra to celebrate Christmas with her family, making it the fifth year in a row I’ve been away from Aberdeen for the holidays. Do I feel good about that? No not really. But it’s just sort of panned out that way…

As it is, I’m enjoying the pure ‘down-time’ here and it gives me time to re-charge, re focus and even get around to doing a bit of writing: Something to which I have little time for. Yesterday, I celebrated my twenty-seventh birthday by throwing up repeatedly and relaxing at a thermal spa. I was welcomed back by a birthday cake/s: The first I’ve been given in years. Please excuse the word order in the photo: We are in Germany after all…

So what does 2013 hold? Honestly, I don’t know. Petra and I will continue to live in Edinburgh as her job demands this but I have no problem conforming to that: I love it there. As for my own personal development? I wish I could tell you the answer. I desperately need to do something different with my life, and I have to push that forward in the New Year as opposed to just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. It’s only a matter of time for me. However now, more than ever, it’s important I use that time wisely.

Oh, and how did I see in 2012? By dressing in drag of course…

Take it easy folks and all the best for 2013.

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For All The Cows – My Experience With Reading (Or lack of it…)

You know, apart from the back of the cereal box, girly products in the shower and the world wide web of shite that haunts me on a daily basis, I really don’t read enough: Yeah, the occasional flick through The Guardian and the (very occasional) hardback but this, of course, does not qualify me as a ‘reader’. For those of you that don’t know, I’m back to studying (Higher English, Higher German and yes…before you ask… I do have a JLS pencil case and no…you did NOT…get yours before I did.) So in the not so distant future, this will all be changing. You know, the more I think about it he more I look forward to it. I damn well should be a reader. I write enough. Well, not as much as I should, but I damn well try when I do. So it got me thinking: If I put so much effort into writing, then why can’t I apply that effort into reading?

Growing up, my mum and my sister were both excessive readers. There was always a great and varied selection of books in our house albeit on the feminine side… One of my earliest memories was of my mum nagging my old man to build a bookcase (which was always put off). When he finally got around it, I remember taking great pleasure in filling the shelves even though the majority of the books weren’t mine.

My bookcase in the flat. A literary wet dream. Jealous much?

My bookcase in the flat. A literary wet dream. Jealous much?

My sisters shelf was overlapping: Stacked to the brim with ‘The babysitters club’ series and old favourites in new editions, (The Railway Children, Treasure Island etc.) sourced from a weekly magazine that was delivered to our house (I hate junk mail…) I could never make sense of my mums collection: Mostly daunting fiction novels, way above my reading level. Regardless, I was too young to understand anyway. I couldn’t even figure out why she had her head in a book so often when the tele was on…

I took pride in filling my own shelf: Roald Dahl; Enid Blyton; An array of colourful wildlife magazines; And all sorts of dinosaur related books. I obsessed over nature and could get lost in those books for hours on end. I still have that passion today (nature that is not books) and I tend to find some comfort and calmness when reading about/watching wildlife. Anyway…

My dad Isn’t much of a reader: I would buy him a book most years for Christmas but they were rarely read. I got the hint in my early teens and gave up buying them. Eventually, I moved my alliance to DVDs but they were neglected also. But I guess he needed more time to prepare the awesome Christmas dinners we used to get. With that, he thrived. Delicious.

Overall, there was a healthy selection of books in my house growing up and I had my fair share. When I read/flicked my way through enchanting and mysterious kids books, I would wrap myself up in my own imagination dreaming of exotic creatures and lost worlds. Books (perhaps not so much the reading aspect but certainly the visuals) had an effect on my childhood for sure and has carried on through to my adult life. I have a vivid and wild imagination that can be my best friend when it’s at its best and my worst enemy when it decides to play tricks on me.

Well. at least I have some tact when it comes to writing. Found this ad in Singapore. Would you live with this guy?

I am fortunate enough to have travelled the world.

In my opinion, reading books and seeing pictures as a child fueled my future adventures.

As I became a teen, I developed a healthy obsession with girls, football and video games (but strangely, cars, did and still do bore me…)

It started out with football magazines (Shoot and Match were the two I have memories of) as I enjoyed reading about my boyhood heroes. I think I revelled in knowing more facts and stats about the game than my friends. It was always something to talk about wasn’t it? You know, whilst you waited around for your pubic hair to grow in…

I still love the beautiful game, but computers? Not so much.

I think I only bought those magazines for the free playable demo (or stole them if they would have happened to have become loose from their protective polythene, but shhhh… don’t tell anyone…) Not much has changed. I would rather have been outside then and I’d rather be outside now.

The lad magazines? Well, perhaps that was an unhealthy obsession. To the displeasure of my mum, I actually obtained a bulk load of previous editions of FHM (for him magazine) from a friend that couldn’t believe his luck when some moron volunteered to take them off him. This in fact managed to take up a healthy amount of space in my wardrobe. So. Many. Magazines. What a headache… However, these magazines helped me learn about the ever-changing world around me and I eagerly awaited next months copy. FHM was like a bible for many teenage boys and I was no exception. And hey, it didn’t hurt that it came with a free poster…

Bringing us back to 2012, we’ve established I don’t read as much as I should but I like to write. I actually feel terrible about it as I would love to have the patience to work my way (and emotionally invest myself) through a good piece of fiction. The genre? Not that fussy, but I have to be genuinely interested. I find it hard to invest in a book that can’t grab my attention within the first three chapters. Patience has never been my strong point and that goes for other elements of my life. In terms of online reading, a lot of my time (but nowhere near enough) is devoted to travel sites and message boards as this is where my interest lies. Out with travel, the majority of the rest of my time goes to a meagre five or six different sites. No need to list them. I’d put money on you guessing them all… I have good intention to write (voluntary) for gapyear.com as they always welcome my input whether that be helping out with some words of advice for fellow backpackers (you know, don’t get arrested, lay off the lady boys etc. ) or an article here and there. Just because I’ve travelled, doesn’t necessarily make me qualified to give advice, but I do so anyway. People, kindly, gave their knowledge to me when I needed it so I try to give it back in any way I can.

When reading this book, I actually found a red paper clip on the floor of the train. What's the chances? (No don't be silly. Of course I'm not going to talk about the actual book...)

When reading this book, I actually found a red paper clip on the floor of the train. What’s the chances? (No don’t be silly. Of course I’m not going to talk about the actual book…)

Of course I try to maintain this little blog space on word press when I have the time but even if I had it, finding the motivation is another thing all together. But hey, if you have kept up with my writing over the years, you will be sick to death of hearing about that particular topic.

Here is a statement for you:

Writing/creative writing is a hobby of mine and something in which I’m passionate about.

Reading that sentence back to myself brings a smile to my face. Why? Well I have my reasons. I’ve always had the passion in my life I’ve just (at times) lacked the direction. Hopefully I can bring the two together. For the first time in a long time, I’m in with a fighting chance.

I am genuinely excited to be doing Higher English. I’m enjoying it and in my life, that’s half the battle.

Take it easy folks and happy reading (even if it is just your test results from the gum clinic…)

Mick Foley? Have a nice day mate. Come back to Scotland when you’re funnier.


For All The Cows – An Update To The Update…

In case you’re still remotely interested in the revolving door that is my life, I’m back on the scene with blog number 100. Okay, so it’s not going to be the special entry I had planned but I’ve been away a long time! So folks this is simply a blog to say hello and a little catch up. I did say in my last entry that there is more writing to come from me and there will be; mostly spanning from my recent travels. But for now I’ll just fill you in on the news, trying not to make this too painful of a read.

Onwards…

For those of you that have lost track of exactly what I’m doing:

Firstly – I’m not in the slightest surprised.

And secondly – I have no fucking idea either.

Things haven’t changed that much since my last entry. I may not be in Germany any more but I knew then what I know now and everything is still going as planned. But Without wanting to add another week onto the months, I’ll crack on.

Much like opening the door to a cupboard that’s been used as storage for far too long; I have no fucking idea what’s going to come pouring out.

So where the hell am I now and how long am I here for?

Jesus Christ; Even I can’t conjure up interest any more…

Well I’m in Scotland! Edinburgh to be more specific. Literally with nowhere to live and no job. But I do smell relatively good and judging by the bounce of my beer gut when I stride down the stairs I still eat well.

I’ve been back in Scotland for two weeks and down at the capital for one of those looking for a place to live and shortly a job as I am very near to being out of money. Looking at flats has been a mixed bag of frustration, disappointment and time wasting. I’m living at a hostel at the moment, abusing the free morning coffee and killing time by feeling sorry for myself and willing for the phone to ring. My ‘refresh page’ finger is getting a good work out though and who says you can’t eat chips twice in a day?

Basically this is what my life has come down to; Talking to strange men in 8 bedroom dorms and listening to couples fucking in the shower. But it’s only temporary and it’s nothing I’m not used to. I have no doubt my life will come together but It could take weeks rather than days. I’m in dire need of some structure in my life and I’m not talking waiting in line for the shower.

Is this going the way of a ramble? Better get it out the way then…

These past three years have been the best of my life; Seeing the world and having experiences that I couldn’t of imagined before leaving Scotland. It’s hard to really put into words how much travel has done for me as a person. To put it simply: I’m a different person now then when I was before I left.

When I was on the road I was tested in so many different ways I hadn’t experienced back home that I soon developed a mental toughness in which I could call upon when needed. I began to realize that nothing is too hard to achieve with a bit of persistence, patience and drive. However I was also aware that all three of these things didn’t stick around with me for long. I secretly developed anxieties and fears about how I would adapt upon returning.I knew that the lifestyle I was living had to end somewhere and at sometime. But you know, I wouldn’t change that much of what I’ve done over the last three years and I’m happy with the majority of choices I made. But in a sense I’ve only been killing time and delaying the inevitable. I was happy with that for a long time but lately I have started to think of the future; something to which I’ve been so dismissive with in the past.

I’m putting some serious thought into career goals and earning real money. Money has never been that big of an issue for me. I have seen the world on minimum wage and had the most amazing of experiences. Experiences that people with double the income, of all ages and from all walks of life shared with me.

Fit's ah this shite for? JUST DEE IT!

Leaving was about getting the best out of myself and seeing where my strengths lied. And although It was a pretty unorthodox way of learning life lessons, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I have met some of my favourite people whilst being away and learned things I wouldn’t have If I had stayed in Aberdeen.

But it all boils down to this: I’m home and it’s now time to move forward in a completely different way to which I am used to.

I can still fuck up and I still have plenty of time, but I now have to make some important decisions.

For the third time in three years I am back to the very beginning. I may not have anything to show for it in the traditional sense. No career, no money, no further education, not even possessions apart from this laptop I’m typing on but I’ve still achieved.

I’ve worked hard at something you can’t touch, feel or see but Inside I have a lot to show for it. I feel personal achievement in that I know where my strengths lie. It’s just about using them.

You know, before I left I didn’t believe in myself or push myself hard enough. I was jealous of my friends for studying and hated students based purely on not being one.

I’m back to square one in another city but have I ever really been further? At this moment in time, this could quite possibly be the best place to be. Square one isn’t that scary. I can go in any direction.


How was your trip?

Great and went surprisingly well. As I said I’ll be writing all about over the coming months so I’ll just touch on it briefly. One of the reasons I’ve not been updating is because I didn’t have my laptop on the road. These thing’s tend to fall off of boats, go missing from trains and end up as 21st century coffee tables in a flat in Bangkok.

On the grand scale of things the trip was a success with only minor hiccups (not counting the Qantas strike fiasco we got stuck in the middle of) and even on the tight budget we had, we had a great and balanced experience.

I had always wondered how couples managed to get through spending 24 hours attached to each other whilst traveling and I still don’t have the answer. A lot of couples have fallen a part on the road but others have been brought closer together. I prepared for both scenarios by learning how to share my toys and studying how to cover up a murder. Fortunately I didn’t need the latter and we both came out of it unscaved.  The whole experience  can be quite intense and at times can really put a strain on your relationship. But to be honest I was fairly confident Petra and I would get on well otherwise I wouldn’t have even suggested the trip. I was concerned about us driving each other mental though. I can’t stand my own company most of the time so how was I going to deal with hers 24/7 and how the fuck could anyone put up with me for that long? But I needed not worry as it was perfectly fine and we got on great. Couple of minor tiffs due to the stresses of travel and what not but we are stronger now than we were before. Just to make you sick in your mouth a little here’s a picture of the annoying happy couple looking like a couple dildos from Ann Summers:

Proper Condom Use

Future Plans?

Well after some real thought and consideration, I have my heart set on studying. I just can’t do hospitality for much longer. My heart isn’t in it anymore. The reality is this: If you want to make real money you will have to become a qualified chef or own your own business and I want to do neither. You can get great tips though if you’re in the right place. I’ve made plenty over the years. But I can’t work like that forever. Hopping from place to place is incredibly tedious for me now but I will probably have to do it until I start studying. At the moment, I can’t afford to be picky. Based on my experiences, there is little reward in this business for a job you work very hard at. The bottom line is I can’t see my future involving hospitality even though I know I’d be damn good at it. It’s looked after me well but it’s time to move on.

I have to try my hand at something else.

I still want to be a writer in some shape or form but this is where I really need the help. I can’t be any more specific than the sentence I’ve just typed. Also I’m pretty naïve to the business and where I can fit in. I need all the advice I can get.

Hence why this morning I took a visit to the Careers advisor to assess my situation. And realistically, I’m going to end up doing either open university, an access course via the University Of Edinburgh or higher education at college with the option of Uni on completion. The woman was friendly and helpful enough for someone that must of seen all sorts of creatures sat in front of her desk. She tried to get me to partake in online personality tests and career assessments. I declined. I already know my strengths and weaknesses; For me it comes down to motivation and desire and not lack of ability. I just need to pin point what I want to learn.

Do you know what you’ll be doing ten years from now? Do any of us? I might even be back in Germany in a year or two so that blurs the lines even more.

You know what? Fuck it. I’ll just dig up dinosaurs like I said I’d do when Jurassic Park came out…

Dig up baby dinosaurs. That's my ten year plan.

Anyway folks I’m sorry for the ramblings but that’s all I can muster at the moment? As I said there will be some creative writing pieces coming up in the next few months as well as a travel blog. Keep an eye out.

A Sincere Thank You.

 Since I’m back in the country for the foreseeable future I’d like to thank a few people for their continued support over the past three years. It’s nice to know that I’m appreciated as a friend and a family member and I want to show my appreciation back.

Thank you to my parents for always thinking of me and being proud of whatever decision I’ve made.

My grandparents and especially my grandmother for her constant kind words and encouragement.

Petra for the way you are and continue to be. I love you.

My sister and the rest of my family for being proud of a brother/nephew they never see. We will spend some time together soon!

Holly for giving me a place to live when It was important I lived alone. Thank you for the room.

Paul for never changing, always keeping in touch and making time for me. Best buds min!

Stew for the constant laughs.

Andy and Wilson. You will always be my friends despite not seeing much of one another lately.

Josh for constantly being positive and a pleasure to be around. Thanks for the place to live and for always being a selfless friend.

The rest of the James family (and Merlin!) for your kindness and hospitality.

Rob for letting me crash on your couch when I literally had nowhere to go and no money. Nothing is ever a problem for you.

Scotty for keeping me company on the bench! 😉

Reno and the rest of Annerley football club for making me feel like a star when I can’t play football for shit. One of the greatest times of my life and I’ll never forget the club.

Mitch and Ainsley for helping me settle into Brisbane and being the reason I came there in the first place. Get off crutches mate!

Adam for giving me a job in Germany when I really needed it badly. I wasn’t going to go away otherwise!

And to everyone else I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, traveling and working with over the past three years.

The adventure ends now but another is about to begin.

Thank you all.

Darren.

Serious stuff? Time for the silly face.


For All The Cows – An update.

Hey folks. I hope all is well? It’s been a while since my last update so I thought I’d let you in on what’s been happening.

I’m not going to lie. I’m definitely suffering from the blues and in many ways I have been for a few weeks now. But instead of letting it continue to get me down and bore you all to death with it, I think the solution is to look forward to the future don’t you think? I don’t need to put you through reading about my personal misery again (I don’t have it bad over here but in context with my own existence and mindset and how I feel from day-to-day is relative to how I live my life and a big factor to how I act around myself more so than others.)

What I will say though is that I do miss my friends and family from back home and I am looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Now then.

Onwards in some easy digestible pieces…

What exactly am I up to?

Well as most of you probably know, if only by spying  instead of talking to me,( isn’t the internet awesome? Soon we won’t even  need ‘friends’. There will be an app full of them ready to download) I live and work in Germany with my girlfriend and have been here close to a year now. It’s been fine (for lack of a better word) in that we get on great, the town is charming and I have little worries here.

Am I ready to leave? Yes. A long time ago.

It’s nothing personal. I actually really like it here. The problem lies in my agenda.

Once again I am doing the same shit but in a different country and I feel – no I know – I could do so much more. I’m slightly disappointed with myself this time around. I get up, I piss around, I smoke too many cigarettes and drink coffee and then I go to work. Rinse and repeat everyday. Now I must state, this is entirely my fault. I haven’t made the effort even in getting close to new friends. From day one I knew I’d be leaving again. I didn’t have that knowledge on my last trip, so I guess I never really got off the ground here. I’m happy with my relationship with Petra but I’m not happy with my relationship with Germany. Once again – it’s nothing personal, it’s just not the right time for me to be here. If I have to work in a kitchen or a restaurant floor for one more year of my life, I’m going to crack up. And as grateful as I am to be in a job that treats me well, I’m going through groundhog day and a continuous loop of misery and boredom. I feel like im in a prison. And for anyone that knows me well – I need to be pacing a much bigger cell.

Would I come back to Germany to live? Yes. In a heart beat.

Can I be here any longer at the time being? No. Sadly not.

See how easy it is to rant? Moving on…

So –  what’s the plans?

Well over the past few months whilst Petra has been studying, I’ve been planning and booking a round the world trip for us both. That’s been keeping me fairly busy as there is more to in than you might imagine. Surprisingly – I sparked  into life doing this and I actually really enjoyed it. I got a travel agent to book all of my first trip as If I was left to my own devices, I would have ended up that famous creek with not only a missing paddle, but probably a whole new asshole handed to me in every major city. I was clueless and chose to adopt other people who knew what the hell they were doing. However this time round, I have a bit of knowledge and experience and without wanting to jinx the whole thing, I think I did a fairly good job of organising everything. Here’s the trip in a bit of detail if you want to stalk me or smuggle a package of narcotics in my backpack:

  • Sep 23rd – Edinburgh.
  • Sep 24th – Oct 3rd – Aberdeen.
  • 2 weeks – New York/Philadelphia/Boston.
  • 10 days – LA/San Francisco.
  • 1 month – Australia.
  • 2 weeks – Thailand.
  • 6 weeks – Borneo.
  • Singapore to London.
  • Arrive home February 3rd and shortly after move to Edinburgh.

On my return?

We (both Petra and I) are moving to Edinburgh. She want’s to gain work experience abroad and I want to officially get my shit together, so where better to do it than the Capital?  We did think about London but Edinburgh seems less daunting for a couple getting their own place, looking for new work and putting their feet on the ground for a year or two. For different reasons – Aberdeen is out of the question.

The plan? I want to study and only work part-time for a while. Although I’ve been fortunate enough to do some travel and working full-time has gotten me there, after 8 years of it I’m officially done. I want to look towards the future and it’s not easy to see whilst flipping burgers and washing dishes. What I want to do is a different question all together. I’m really not sure. But I enjoy writing and although I am naive and relatively in the dark with what I could possibly do as a career with it, I want to at least get an education first. So one step at a time. Reading more books would be a start…

And with the writing?

I’m happy to say that I’m getting there and more importantly – interested and enjoying it. As a board poster on gapyear.com, I decided that potentially I had more to give to the site than just being a poster. I sent in a couple of my entries from here as example pieces, in hope that my style could have a place for the site. The editor praised my writing  and asked me to produce an article on my time in Germany (Which is done and dusted by the way and I will put it up at a later date). It was unpaid however in return I got my work edited by a professional and critiqued. And of course – it’s all experience that I will need to get going in the right direction. I’m happy to say that since then I have produced a further article and have written a complete country guide to Germany, to which you can read here.

So onwards and upwards. Watch this space. There will be more pieces coming in the future. And as much as I seem to love writing about myself, I’m looking to step away from that and get serious about producing real work. Besides. What else is there really to know about me? And apart from being entertained by my ramblings once in a while, does anyone really care? Writing these has always been for my own benefit. However now it’s came round full circle and I’m looking to benefit in a whole different way.

A career.

Any advice?

So folks this is my 99th entry, which if you think about it – isn’t really that many. But in saying that I’m pleased I’m still writing and even more so that I plan on continuing. I love doing this and for as passionate as I am about certain things, nothing really ever sticks with me. I’m glad I do this and enjoy doing it. I will continue. And I sincerely hope that 5 years from now – I’m stuck good and well.

I’m thinking about what I might do for my 100th entry. Perhaps I’ll have a  go at impressing you with something a bit different. We shall see.

Also expect some sort of travel blog to come out of my next trip. I don’t see why not. That’s a no brainer.

That’ll do it for now.

I will see some of you in a few weeks.

Untill then – take it easy and all the best.

Darren.


For All The Cows – How Tom Green can ruin your night…

It’s absolutely infuriating.

I want to write. I really do. So what is the problem?

Am I really going to go through this lengthy process again? And again? And….well you get the point. I see a pattern emerging and again I am fully aware of it.

You  know –  I’m the first person to point out my faults and I know them all very well. Dealing with them is  like cooking a romantic meal.You know if you are patient,gentle and calm, it will turn out tasting and looking great.But if you can’t be bothered from the get go all you want to do is flame the hell out of it,poke it around, slap it on the plate and serve it to the dog,knowing he will be the only person that will like it.

Constantly catering for and understanding my messed up head is exhausting,but now that I know I can get the better of it,creating a nice dish isn’t all that difficult. Light a candle.Put on some music. Make the most of it and enjoy it.

Ok so I’ll stop it with the cryptic messages and confusing analogies that absolutely no one understands.

In other words – Let’s cut the nonsense.

I’ll just skip straight to the point shall I?

I feel like I’m constantly taking my own advice. If this sounds confusing to you it is but bear with me.

I feel like my blogging persona ( in reality; my rational,helpful forward thinking side of my conscience) is who I want to be off-screen aswell as on. If this sounds egotistical to you and self-absorbed it most certainly is and you are definitely right. But i like that guy a lot better than the guy who sits around the house,streaming wrestling and taking naps.

I prefer the ‘blogger’ side of me. However confused he may be he has the right idea

(yes I am referring to myself in third person – big whoop – wanna fight about it?)

and I should really be reading between the lines and taking my own advice.Anyway i’ve come to realise what i really want to do/have a proper go at in my life.

I want to write.

Broad – yes. But it’s a start.

Ask me that same question two years ago I’d have still said a racecar driver or a cowboy

(of course i’ve never wanted to be any of those things but you get the meaning behind it)

It’s something I think about constantly,from when I wake up in the morning untill I go to sleep at night and all those wasted hours in between. I certainly  don’t want to be in the kitchen anymore. I know this. And the time is soon approaching where I can finally do something about it. Over the past couple of months I’ve spent around an hour a day looking at a blank screen wanting and pleading with myself to start writing. Anything at all. And I’m coming out blank. Last night I lay in bed for three hours thinking about it and all I could think about was the word Swedish.And then again. Some more Swedish. And some more.

Seriously Tom Green. Your career is over. Don’t sabotage mine before I’ve even started.

It’s the same thing over and over again. As soon as I lay down I want to write. And is soon as I start writing I can’t.And I didn’t plan to write any of this today.

I can’t blame Tom Green as much as I’d like too.

But you know what I’ve realised?

Throughout all of my entries there have been the same recurring themes.

Motivation and change.

I write about those two things constantly yet never take my own advice.

Weather it be writing about my bad habits,past experiences or just total nonsense, it all centres around change and want of it.

The other day (Let’s say Tuesday. You can make it sound funny if you say it with a thick tounge and in a funny voice).

Yes – I really do have that much time.

I read all my blogs back to myself as if it was a stranger i was reading about. I tried to really get behind my own words and draw some sort of conclusion of what I was truly trying to gain from writing. Yeh it’s fun,rewarding and enjoyable but as i’ve touched on before – it goes deeper than that.It’s nice to know that some people read them but that’s not what it’s about although it does keep me going. This is a true outlet for me and I treat it as some sort of therapy (fuck your ink blots Oberhalzer). Everytime I post I feel ten times better about the days ahead and feel like i’ve hit a reset switch in my head.

I’m not hard to get on with. It’s getting on with myself that’s the problem.

I am a man of needs.

We all need food,water and masturbation but let’s push past the necessities.

Well – i guess that answers that desert island question……

I need to be motivated. I need guidance.I need to be put in my place.I need to be told when I’m wrong. I need to be social. I need to be pushed.I need to be challenged. I need a purpose. I need to be out there(don’t ask where – just there) I need my imagination. I need confidence. I need to have faith in myself.

I don’t need new socks however i do need new underwear

I have most of those things already.

But I constantly need change.

And again that’s something that I have. I constantly have change. However it’s like changing a battery in a clock. You try fourteen different batteries,knowing too well that most of them are dead,yet throwing them out isn’t an option. Keeping them in a drawer and holding on to them makes no sense yet I still do it. Time won’t move on unless you do. You’re going to need new batteries. Focus on one. Throw the rest away. And much like the battery – Move with the time. Otherwise you will be left counting the minutes.

I just can’t stop that can I?

Change is only possible if you have the mental tools to do it. If you are constantly fighting a battle against it,nothing good will come of it. And that’s the spot i find myself in. And I’ve been down this road many times before.More recently in this post –motivation.

It’s a lot easier said than done. Or in my case written.

Reading back my thoughts to myself is quite an eye opener as I don’t do it often.

I realise that my  blogging persona makes sense to me,and that’s where I’m striving to be.It is the productive side that I must embrace and live with.And it’s the direction I need to go in. The other side of me is shit. And I’m done with it. He is a time waster with the best of intentions but a time waster never the less. I need to stop writing about the things I want to achieve and write about  doing them. Otherwise I honestly can’t see myself being a success.

Brutally honest but painfully true.

Next year is a big one for me. I’m moving back to the UK and it is a great opportunity to pursue what I want.And what I want is the ability to write organically,and naturally with the option of taking a step on the career ladder.But  right now I must take baby steps towards it Better than walking round in circles or taking steps backwards and also more realistic than big strides forwards. That how you pull a groin folks.

I want to write. And not about wanting to write.

You know what? Scrap that.

I need to write.

But first and foremost. I have to end the stalemate with my lazy other half,shake hands and call a truss.

I must change.

Then hopefully – the world will change with me.

Take it easy folks.


For All The Cows – Can you be motivated?

You can’t buy motivation.You can buy alternatives i guess. A tab of ecstasy,two weeks in Zante and a huge pair of tits should get the blood flowing  but lets face it – all three won’t last forever. True motivation starts from the bottom and works its way up (Not physically guys). It essentially requires one thing. Change. And ironically most change requires one thing. Motivation. Let’s put it this way. We all have a breaking point.For the sake of argument lets call it a magic line (Which i guess could also class as a motivator depending on what your line consists of).

A line between being productive and being lazy.And I’m sure everyone will agree it’s far easier being lazy than being productive,especially with the sheer amount of distractions around. Yes – I’m looking at you Facebook. However mapping out that magic line in your head,however long or short it may be is a start. Figuring out the boundaries,getting to the edge and hopping over to the better side is the true battle.

For those of you that know me well should know that I’m full of ideas (again  – draw that magic line. The margin between an idea and shit is rather fine) Acting on these plans has been somewhat hit or miss in the past. I’d say I was mostly all talk but with the best of intentions.Not that I lie. But I tend to have a grand scheme which in theory is perfectly achievable. I just didn’t act on it.

I have realised you have to be realistic with future plans without necessarily stamping out dreams of walking on the moon or owning a hotel. I think it’s important to have ambitions and goals. However making them achievable ( in your own mind. Not anyone elses) is important. It makes getting there all that more easier when you know deep down – you can do it. Pipe dreams are only that when there is nothing to build the dream from.Reaching for the stars,thinking failure is the only option can be destroying to morale and motivation.Realising failure is not an option can help building in many senses.But as most things. It starts from the ground up.

How many of us work better under pressures and deadlines? And how many of us squander our time when not being pushed?And how many blogs am I going to write in the style of a pyramid scheme or scam e-mail? Boggling.

Anyway.

Keeping things in perspective,under control and close enough to touch can be the difference between one side of the magic line and the other. I believe  in something worth having doesn’t come for free and I hope most people feel the same. Essentially – you get out what you put in. That walk on the moon won’t come without serious training,hard work,sacrifice,self-control,money,guidance and a huge slice of luck. So having ambition is a great thing. Having the tools to go with the ambition is essential for any of your aspirations to come reality.And the main tool is of course – motivation.

And now onto the point…..

I know time and time again i’ve harped on about this,that or the other,mainly trying to convince myself rather than you guys on my grand plans for life. As I sit and reflect I have come to the conclusion that success has been a mixed bag however I am definitely on the right track. Not in terms of a career,a house and all the rest that comes with being a grown up,but in terms of personal development I feel i’ve came on leaps and bounds.I’ll roughly go into what I wanted from life recently and what I have or haven’t achieved,bundled in with a whole lot of excuses for my actions.

It wouldn’t be me without them.

More recently; I wanted to write a book:

Not even close. I can’t even find the (Insert word of the day) to write a blog nevermind a novel. Although that being said at least it has constantly been on my mind. I think about it all the time. I actually edited one of my pieces right down to enter into a short story competition but was still over the allocated allowance. I didn’t want to change much more so I left it. But i have found a great site that tells you of up coming contests and i have been keeping an eye out. I have a couple of ideas and as the criteria is so varied from competition to competition,I’m just waiting on the right one to come along. Still – I should be writing a lot more.It’s something i truly enjoy and get something out of it. I know what i have to do (ie – forcefully fuck Facebook right up the ass and let it bleed to death.Harsh but at least you get my point) but of course – it’s just a matter of acting on it! Expect a couple of reviews in the near future as I am going to try my hand at that. Yes expect. But don’t bank on it.

Bank on natural disasters. Then you are onto a winner. The world has gone to shit. Again.

I wanted to travel:

Well you all know I grabbed the ball and ran with it on that one. I’m still in Germany as I write this feeling a lot better about it. I love the town but hated my job. I love my girlfriend but hate desperate housewives. You have to take the good with the bad. I can live with the latter and literally do,however the job was a major problem. I could not stand it. I’ve worked in a lot of places for a lot of different people in my short life, but nothing quite tried me like La Cucina (You may remember an earlier blog entitled the same).To cut a long story relatively short,there was a lot of issues which made working there really not worth it,despite how much I needed work. Even thinking of writing about it makes my head hurt so I’m not even going to bother. The final straw was getting 100 Euros taken off my already shabby wage,for breaks i had never,ever taken. ridiculous. And insulting.Especcialy for someone who works as hard as I do.

So I moved on and now work as a chef in an Irish Bar. Pretty simple and a lot better for my sanity and morale.It’s not easy starting from scratch in a new Country. You need to catch a break.I feel a i caught a bad one.I wasn’t happy.And I was seriously seeing cracks emerging working in the Italian. It feels good to have my head out the gutter and back on track. And I get paid so much better and treated with a little more respect. Not treated like a fucking idiot.With the next trip booked for October through till February I have something to work towards now. And the hours are rolling in. We will be away before we know it.

I wanted to teach English:

On the lead up to Christmas i was working on my English teaching Course most days and was feeling pretty good about it. I really enjoyed the creative side of it (Lesson planning,teaching methods) but the grammar was driving me mental. Still – in typical fashion i rushed through it carelessly,knowing that i had to pay a fine if i went over the allocated time. The difference being that this time i actually passed something and felt pretty damn good about it. You see – I have only worked full-time since school,and school in itself was one big failure. I have done very little learning since and to pass something (as little as it may be in comparison to a degree or a HIV test) meant the world to me.I am easily distracted and to focus and follow through on something I had started was a big deal for me. I actually look forward to doing more. Again this all boils down to motivation. If i had failed i would have been in my underwear,smoking a twenty pack and jakking off to red-tube about now.

Sadly I won’t be able to use this qualification anytime soon as i already have plans stretching well into next year. However it’s good to know it’s there for me and always an option. It was originally what i wanted to do.

I did teach my first class during my time here. A group of 6 kids ranging from 4 to 7. Pretty daunting.But that’s a story for another day. I did pretty well however around six people were going for the same job. You just can’t compete against five pedophiles and Kate Mccann. I didn’t stand a chance.

Now for a smaller scale:

I want to punch Sarah Cox square in the face – If motivated enough – Achievable.

I want to go to Wrestlemania – definitely achievable.

I want to double the amount of dishes i can currently make and perfect the ones I can – Well on my way I’d say.

I want enough money to have fun whilst i travel – Again,on my way.

I want a career sooner rather than later – yeh that’s one for next year i think. Petra is moving to the UK and i see that as a good opportunity for a fresh start. I can’t work in bars and restaurants forever. Nobody wants a grey pubic hair in their soup.

I want to lose this beer gut once and for all! – meh. You know what like. Beer here,beer there. Unless I am playing sport I find all offer forms of exercise a drag. Who wants to sit up when you can sit down? Yes. I should really read my own words and take my own advice on that one.

I want to watch another channel that isn’t CNN or BBC World – Not possible unless it’s in German. I refuse to watch MTV regardless of what Country I’m in.

I want to speak German – Getting there but I have nowhere near put in the work I should be. Although I have a great opportunity now as the chef at work speaks no English at all. I should really take advantage of that and kill two birds with one stone.

I want to be motivated – Hurray! I bet you didn’t see that coming?…..

Everything is achievable if all the pieces in your life are set up in a certain way,that makes any task big or small seem effortless.For example, the difference between going to bed that hour later or getting up an hour earlier can shape and mold the day ahead. Of course im only speaking of my own experiences. Some people are more motivated than others. When I arrived in Germany I had grand plans to learn the language,go out and make some friends,play football and generally insert myself into the community. It didn’t happen and as much as I should take responsibility for myself, I partly blame my job. I was there most nights and can not stress how much I hated it. It was dragging me down and being the sensitive soul I am, became quite down-hearted. It left me with hours to kill during the day which were mostly spent on the internet,cooking and worrying and stressing about going to work. I found it impossible to become motivated. Now that I have another job which is far more easier to stomach,i’ve found a new lease of life over here. I’m feeling better and being more productive with my time and generally more upbeat about the day ahead,despite inevitably going to work in the evening. If you spend so much of your life in one place it is important you get some sort of enjoyment out of it however little or large it may be. It can be said for other situations. Mental girlfriends,having kids and too much Uni work i guess could all potentially drag you down.  Everyday needs a balance. It’s about finding a balance that’s good for you near to that magic line. Setting up camp to far away can result in wasted hours becoming wasted days. Wasted days becoming wasted weeks. And wasted weeks becoming months and years. When you inevitably move onto something else in life whatever it may be,do you really want to regret wasted opportunities? In my opinion wasted time is just that. A wasted opportunity. Being motivated can have unseen importance,between grabbing on and letting life pass you by. Living on the edge for whatever may come your way can – make all the difference.

That’ll do it for today folks. A big thank you to everyone I met up with over the past couple of weeks,back in the UK. It was great seeing you all and it won’t be too long untill we cross paths again. Untill then i will remain in Germany untill the Summer,before returning home to find work in Aberdeen for three months. So I will see some of you over the Summer.

Take it easy.

Crocker.


For All The Cows – Breaking The Habit

Bad habits come as natural to me as a duck to water.I have the classic list of bad stuff going on.Nothing mental like wife-beating or stealing from topshop.You know – the usual. Smoking, drinking, watching too much porn, biting my nails, reading ‘the sun’, not washing behind my ears, forgetting birthdays etc. Nothing too drastic and they all come and go. I live with them on a daily basis. However this isn’t to say im happy about that. In fact at times it can be pretty upsetting.

I’m really not the strongest of people despite my out going nature.My bad habits have a history of haunting me and it’s something ive grown to accept,despite knowing exactly what i need to do to end them.I seem to constantly put myself into the path of temptation and when it boils down to it i rarely win these battles,despite my efforts. But habits are habits for a reason. They are designed to let you take the easy way out and allow you mull it over later.Quite a contrast of good versus evil im sure you’ll agree.

I know the solutions.We all do. I tend to put the feeling of guilt behind me rather quickly as this requires more thought than i really feel necessary or in other words – more than i feel comfortable with. However like most things in life, these things tend to catch up with you and be it big or small, all bad habits must eventually be dealt with one way or another. Bad habits are fine if kept in check. It’s when you let these impulses take over the penny will drop at sompoint.

It has dawned on me(and not for the first time) that my moral victories have mostly came the hard way and i write this as an example on how not to handle things.I won’t get all preachy but i would like to share my experiences with you, one of which my family doesn’t even know of.I’ll get into why later.As i said i have learned the hard way through my own damn doing, and  the only reason i have curbed my habits in the past is through being hurt by it in some way or another,which isn’t really anyway to go about things.

Firstly i will look into alcohol as i believe this was the catalyst to some of my bad habits today.I’ll give a completely honest view on my experiences so if you don’t want to read about me reminiscing,watch this instead.Mental.

I remember the first time i was hammered (apart from the family holiday to Malta when i was eight but that was a complete accident),was a New Years party at Pappagallos, when i had just turned Thirteen. It was closed for the night but we had friends and family round.As expected i was allowed one beer and that was my lot.The Kitchen Porter at the time was 17-year-old Jono Bell who had brought a friend along,aswell as a bottle of Morgans (I’m sure you can see where this is going).I recall finishing my beer then proceeding to knock back half of the Morgans when the lads had turned their backs. Needless to say,i was fucked and ended up on the kitchen floor,lying in my own sick before the bells to the delight of my parents friends and family.Mess.

But that was it for me. Didn’t really touch a drop untill i was Sixteen and that’s when the fun began.Countless memorable parties got the ball rolling and of course it wasn’t a case of drinking to be sociable at that age. It was to drink as much as i could as fast as i could,anytime i could. Most of my friends began to take it in their stride,and handled their drink a bit better than i did.Sadly it wasn’t really the case for me.

It really was a roll of the dice with how I’d handle my booze. Sometimes i was aggressive,loud and tactless but overall pretty harmless.I was a bit of a handfull.My friends always looked after me despite the states i would get myself in. These things didn’t worry me atall.I always had a good time. What did bother me was that it was at the expense of others. I had zero filter and whatever was on my mind I’d say. This really started to get to me as i would either regret things i said or not remember saying them.Recently Paul and I had this conversation. We talked about how none of the crowd we seen week in week out in the clubs actually liked us much,but we didn’t care.It’s true. We didn’t and had some awesome times.Infact our group of friends really didn’t give a shit and together we  had the most amazing times.

I was still in this frame of my mind when i left to travel.That’s when i realised a lot of things.One of the things addressed was my behaviour when drunk.Being in Aberdeen for that long moulded me into someone i didn’t like and i took this away with me.It was one night in Vietnam that changed the type of drunk i was for good and that one night alone changed things forever.

I have actually written about this incident in the blog ‘The Ballad Of Me And My Friends’ which you can read here –

https://fromfirsttolast1.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/one-year-on/

To this day i feel like i have a good grasp on my drinking and nine times out of ten – feel in control. If i hadn’t left Aberdeen I’m not sure i would have found that level of maturity with alcohol. It took  feeling ashamed and embarrassed about myself to change my ways. I’m glad I’m not a dickhead anymore. Or at least don’t feel like one.

The morning after the train.

Now i wouldn’t necessarily say drinking was a bad habit. At times perhaps however the years i smoked weed certainly was.And was more destructive for the brain than reading ‘The Sun’ everyday.

Now smoking does different things for different people with varying effects.Sure we are all have disks for pupils after a spliff but in the longterm people handle it in different ways (much like drinking).This is an account of the effects it had on me.

I started when i was Seventeen and smoked pretty much most days untill i was Twenty or so.Not really that long in the life of a stoner i guess but it was still enough time to fuck me up. Initially i had a great time with it.Some of my fondest memories are the adventures we went on and the fun we had. I had around ten different places i could go if i wanted a smoke. I just needed to ring the buzzer.The trouble started when it became boring.And i mean really boring. It was no longer fun to sit around a flat on a Saturday night,watching Family Guy and eating shite. It got repetitive however i continued to do it. It wasn’t the start of my problems, however it was the beginning of my downfall.

I had moved out of home for the first time and moved in with Andy and Wilson.Moving out  gave me ample time to smoke my lungs out from the comfort of my own room. I didn’t have to leave the flat to be bored anymore. I could do that on my own! It soon became a morning,noon and night thing and escalated into a  problem.Everyday i smoked without fail and at this point i was still enjoying it.

Eventually after a few months i moved back home.My first venture away from home was always going to be a failure despite what i thought at the time.The real problems started from here.I remember not being able to adapt very well to the transition. I couldn’t smoke all the time in my parents house and i really wasn’t enjoying the feeling as i once did.Infact i started to really dislike it. One thing i had noticed when smoking with friends is how paranoid i became with every word i said. Sometimes i was afraid to talk. There seemed to be this other sensible voice in side of my head,constantly telling me what i was doing wrong and judging what i said.This had now transferred to smoking alone and i would find myself going mad with it as i really couldn’t switch it off untill the weed had worn off.

At this stage i wanted to quit.But i couldn’t. I started to hate who i was becoming but felt a bit powerless against it. I then started feeling incredibly down after every joint. So much so that i couldn’t answer texts,talk on the phone or even look in the mirror. I would lie in my room instantly regretting what i just did. I felt like i was cracking up. My parents knew and questioned me about it but i constantly denied it. There was no more fun to be had. I had to give up.

Much like my behaviour when drunk there was ‘a final straw’ for me and it happened at Leeds festival,a place where i enjoyed smoking so much the years before.It was late at night and we were all sitting round the campfire.I had brought some weed down with me but i really didn’t want to smoke it. However i did and instantly i regretted it. All the shite things that kicked out the good came back again and i knew right away that i had enough. I left the group without saying goodbye and walked into the arena to find a quiet place to sit away from everyone and see it out. I didn’t want to be like this anymore. I was miserable and couldn’t even enjoy a beer with my friends. It was beginning to really fuck my life up.I came back hours later after the feeling had diminished.

I’ve given up now with only a couple of minor lapses since then. Some people seem to think that smoking weed is harmless. Well I’m not here to judge that nor want too. I can only account for my experiences. It took me a whole year after quitting to really feel right again. I felt like i was talking into a bubble. I know people who have been smoking a lot longer than me and are perfectly fine. I know people who aren’t. I couldn’t smoke again.However i do enjoy JK –

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4827818775492694694#

One bad habit that still crops up from time to time is gambling.Now gambling, hands down gave me one of the worst nights of my life and one i didn’t talk about often as it still bothers me  to this day. I have never been a good gambler,from coupons to cards I’m pretty useless but get a kick out of it nevertheless.I have fond memories of spending every last penny on a bandit and have to walk home. And for what? A few quid in coins.Better than a few pounds in chips i guess.I had my fair share of those too( chippers not casino chips) In exodus I’d walk back and forth to that bandit all night with my success rate of winning (and pulling)being pretty small.I don’t even know how to play them(Bandits that is.Not woman.I don’t play woman either.Just hungry hippos).

The night in question was not long before i went travelling. I had began playing roulette online but again,having no clue how it worked.The spin of the wheel,the sounds,the colours and the possibility of winning big hooked me.I remember on my first day of playing i bagged 300 but risked a silly amount just to get that. I had no system or strategy. It was either stick a hundred on a colour or randomly cover random numbers. I remember feeling great about it and that night went back for more. Before i knew it i was out of control,quickly losing the 300 and chasing it. A feeling of pure sickness riddled my head and stomach each time i pressed the spin button,something that i had never felt before. I quickly began losing control and couldn’t even look at the screen.I really felt helpless. A short time later i was down over grand in two spins not including the 300.I felt disgusted.A big part of what i had worked so hard for disappeared before my eyes and I’m not talking about the money i had won. I’m talking about cold hard wages that i had earned to travel with. I don’t earn a lot and this was a big loss for me.  My year had already been pretty shitty for various reasons and the light at the end of the tunnel momentarily flickered out.I really wanted out of Aberdeen at that time. I broke downinto tears and everything just came to a head for me.I was in a sorry state. It wasn’t so much the gambling that did that but just a combination of emotions rising to the top. I knocked a bottle of wine back in one and spoke to gamble aware. The guy on the other end was fucking useless.

“Yeh so like…..close the laptop and put it away”

Cheers Captain Hindsite.Your advice would have been good half an hour ago.

I felt horrible. That really hurt me. It wasn’t so much about the money but the feeling of no control that really shook me up. That night bugged me for a longtime and i still think about it from time to time. Roulette is highly addictive. As is Katy Perry –

As for my other habits i keep them mostly in check. I wash behind my ears on birthdays and only read the sun if there isn’t and Daily Sports left. As for smoking? (cigarettes not weed) Yeh i still do that.Infact more than i used to as my girlfriend does but im a bit of a casual smoker these days. Don’t get the opportunity to watch porn much these days and i’m sure i wont forget that im turning 25 in December. These past five years have flown by.

I am interested to hear your dirty,disgusting bad habits!. A few years down the line from starting this blog, i still have limited knowledge to who actually reads them.I would really like to hear from you.Please drop me a comment.

Crocker.

In a day where i played roulette online again,truthfully i felt i needed to send this out to keep me focused on dealing with the problem at hand and not letting them over run me. This blog has done it for me in the past and continues to this day. Writing about things that bother me and letting you guys know about is a great outlet for me and it  seems to keep my problems in check. Perhaps an entry best saved for personal reading but i just don’t get the same feeling keeping my thoughts locked up as i do sharing them.If you made it down here thank you for reading.


FOR ALL THE COWS – Another new beginning.

The decision was relatively easy.Continue to  deal with the ups and mostly downs of working in the family restaurant or pack up what little belongings I had and try my hand in another country?(albeit under different circumstances than the last time).

After a year working in Sunny Brisbane,Australia and having the experience of my life in Asia,coming home to Aberdeen was never going to sit well in my freshly pressed sense of  freedom and adventure. I had changed in many ways. Aberdeen stubbornly stayed the same and arguably was worse than when i had left. Don’t get me wrong.I’m proud to be Aberdonian and as much as it pains me at times,do love my home City. But there was nothing left for me there. I had gotten as much as I could out of it.

I have great friends. My family has its moments just like everyone else but of course – I love them regardless.Since leaving school I had a half-hearted attempt at further education. “Drama you say? Acting and performance? Well that’s a Mickey Mouse course. I’ll stroll through that!” Needless to say – I failed. Not through lack of ability,but through  lack of ambition. It wasn’t on its way anytime soon. At the time it was something else to do before the grind of working full-time came along.

However I have now spent  the past 6 or so years working in Kitchens or on the floor of an ever-increasing list of Restaurants.It’s something I am very comfortable with and for someone with little academic credentials,I hold it close knowing it’s all I really have.Do I plan on doing this my whole life? Well no. However hospitality will always be there and if you are good at it – there will always be work. Finally (it’s been a long time coming)I  have other plans. After an amazing time in Asia I decided that teaching English is actually a viable option for myself. Clichéd I know. However finding something that One – Interests me,and  Two – Sticks – comes along very rarely. And when it does I make an attempt to grab it with two hands.  This time they’re no excuses although always distractions. The difference is, i am now fully aware of my faults but feel one step ahead of them.

So how do I find myself in Konstanz? Well that’s easy. A girl of course!  I had met her in a hostel in Thailand on the way home to Scotland. It was certainly unexpected but not a hinderance in the grand scheme of things. I had no plans as such for my life than. I had pencilled in returning home,working for a few months and getting away again.Anywhere. It didn’t matter. I had caught the travel bug,and getting on the road again would be the only cure. It had soon arisen that the road would end in Germany for the time being. I fell in love. What can I say? And as i was at a loose end it really wasn’t a question of if I would move over  – but when. Seven months later. Here I am. The adventure is certainly not over or on hold. It is just beginning all over again but in a completely different way to what I had envisioned. Lets face it. When does what you picture really come to life? Very rarely. Things change. People change. Times change. Your dreams may not. However whether you achieve these or not all depends on the above. Don’t get me wrong – I do believe that you can achieve most things you put your mind to. But in order to be successful you must attempt to control the ever-changing factors  around you. Otherwise you may find your dreams  lost at sea without a paddle.

So where do I start? Well the next few weeks will be spent getting my feet on the ground,becoming familiar with my surroundings and then the inevitable job hunt. As I don’t speak the language i will be applying for kitchen jobs. As I become more confident,meet some people and become a part of the scenery I will move forward from there. Im happy to feel this one out. Lets see where the tide takes me.