Looking back at my posts over 2010, I remembered that I didn’t do the wrap up for 2009. I also realized that I predicted that if things improved in 2010, the Gripen would fly. Well, I can say that things definitely did improve, however there just wasn’t enough time or money to finish the Gripen. Maybe 2011 will be the year.
I predicted, not on the blog but in private, that 2010 would be a year of great change for me and Janita. Was I right? Oh yes!
We started off the year with 5 rainy days in Monk’s Cowl in the Drakensberg. This was an awesome and relaxing holiday spent in one of the most beautiful corners of the world. We also took an awesome trip up Cathedral Peak by helicopter!
In February, I had some huge issues at work and I got so angry that I started applying for jobs, any jobs! One random Friday afternoon, I had left work early and was sitting in my study, when I got a phone call from a recruitment agent in Belgium. She was looking for engineers to work for CAE in Germany. I smacked my forehead for being such an idiot, because CAE was the one place I hadn’t thought to look for a new job, yet it is one of the largest simulation companies in the world. Fortunately, I made it through to the next round of interview with CAE themselves on the phone.
The next thing I knew I was arranging to travel to Germany for a face to face interview. Some tall stories at work about going to play hockey, frantically filling in forms, a trip to the embassy, German books bought from Exclusives and I was on my way. I had a good interview and spent a pleasant weekend in Aachen, making the most of the time because I could not bring myself to believe that I might actually be returning to live there.
The following Monday, I was again sitting in my study when the fateful call came through: “Congratulations, you’ve got the job!” Janita and I were speechless. Our dream had finally come true. We went out to dinner to celebrate and plan.
3 weeks to get the paper work. “When can you start?” “As soon as I can give notice and get there.” “Ok, please be ready to start on 1 July.” 4 weeks later and with only 2 weeks to go, it was finally acknowledged that we wouldn’t have our visas in time. At this point, the air ticket was booked, the packing date was set, the cat transport was being arranged and we had quit our jobs. After an excellent trip to Cape Town to visit my family and say goodbye, we could do nothing else other than move in with Janita’s parents and wait. I put in more time to my studies per week during this period than ever before. The original air tickets were cancelled but 6 weeks and one soccer world cup later, after two trips to the embassy, endless paperwork, apostile stamps on marriage certificates and goodness knows what else we had visas, air tickets and were finally ready to depart for foreign shores.
We left on Wednesday 28 July and after an epic journey, finally arrived at the hotel at lunch time the next day.
The next challenge was finding a house within two months. We looked at so many different houses. Most of the time there were hordes of other people looking at the same time as us and we continually failed to find anything. Eventually I got desperate and, on the advice from colleagues, paid a princely sum to put a classified advert in the local newspaper. We struck gold and are now living in an excellent house in a beautiful area. It’s a bit far from work but its worth the commute. Cypraea and Skittles arrived without any problems and seem to be settling down.
I found a hockey team pretty quickly. The Devil Ducks were kind enough to let me join them and although my hockey is pretty bad, it’s slowly starting to improve as learn from these guys. It must be pretty frustrating for them but hopefully they can see that I will get there eventually (hopefully).
Janita and I had to buy a kitchen for our new house so we didn’t have much money left to travel with. We did however make a day trip to Düsseldorf for me to buy hockey kit as well as a day trip to Monschau in the snow. We really enjoyed walking there and visiting the Christmas market. We have made a lot of new friends here, mainly with other English-speaking ex-pats from various countries around the world.
The snow is awesome and we had a white Christmas for the first time in our lives. Fortunately, it didn’t actually snow on Christmas day so I didn’t have to shovel snow then. The shoveling snow earlier in the work was quite an effort. We finished our day with a sledding trip which involved getting snow everywhere. The snow here is quite soft and deep so it flies in great flurries when we go down at high speed.
Some of the other highlights from the year that aren’t mentioned above are an awesome visit from Janita’s American cousin Chris, my new iPad, my new iPhone and travelling to the UK for the first time on a business trip.
No snowy winter would be complete without the construction of a snow girl. Janita and I had good fun and an excellent snow fight while doing this.
I rounded off the year by building a set of skis for my model Extra 230 aircraft and flying off the snow!
So, 2011 is only a few hours away and with it comes new challenges and new possibilities. I’m still studying even as I finalize this post but by the end of February it will all be over for better or for worse. The start of our year is going to be a trip to Hungary and the leave required for the ski trip at the end of February is already booked. I hope that it will be a year of stability for us. In the mean time, its time for what I think I will also try to make an annual occurrence: a change to the theme of the blog.
I wish everyone and their families a very happy new year and all the best for 2011.