Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Sealed pot

I did open my sealed pot last year but if I recall correctly, I just took about twenty-five euro out of it and put the rest back in. I've had another year of mostly forgetting about it, to be honest, but I opened it up and counted it yesterday. I had even added a couple of notes at some stage. Total: €83.06. Not bad really. I'm heading to the craft fair at the RDS in Dublin in a couple of days and will be keeping an eye out for something beautiful that I otherwise wouldn't get for myself. I'm not in debt anymore but the trapped feeling does resurface from time to time. It's nice to have an amount set aside that can be just spent without agonising over whether it would be the better to save it or use it for something practical.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

New table

After living with a 60cmx90cm table that I bought second-hand for £6 (yes, pounds, that'll give you an idea of how old it is - I think it must have been late 1999) as my only table for the last two and a half years, I finally had some money that wasn't desperately needed elsewhere and spent some time driving myself mad looking at hundreds of tables to find one I liked. After a disappointing time at Ikea a few months after moving here, I had kind of put the whole thing on hold. Starting to search again in the last few months, there were a lot that I did like but unfortunately they mostly seemed to come with pricetags in the several thousands of euro range, which was just a bit more than I had available.  However, I finally did see something that was a little bit unusual and a good price and after taking a photo and thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I went for it. After waiting and waiting (and spending some time looking for a rug, but that's an even more difficult thing to choose than a table!) it was finally delivered on Friday. I paid the extra for delivery and assembly but got a deal on a combined cost for those two because I'd been having a nice chat with the woman who was serving me. And she had a lovely holiday in Ireland once.

It did actually come with those little felt things to put on the legs so I'm not too bothered anymore about not having found a rug on time. I think I will get one eventually though, as the colour of the table really doesn't go with the floor. Glad I didn't think of that though because I do like this table, even if it is nothing at all like I would have described if you had asked me what I was looking for. Given that I will probably not live in this apartment for the rest of my life, it's no harm to not have chosen a table just to match or complement the floor here.

Just a quick snap I took after it was assembled - have given up even pretending to mean to take good photos
It's not quite right in that position and I have since moved it around to face the other way. However, that means that it's pushed up against the dresser (which I still haven't gotten around to painting red). I'll have to do some furniture tetris soon but for now, it's fine. I hurt my back somehow a week or so ago and am not supposed to be doing any heavy lifting for at least one more week. I think I'll end up moving the couch back around to fit under the window (this was when I moved it from that position, and this is from when it was there before - still need to get rid of that chair but hoping my sister will take it), move the dresser to the wall opposite where it is now and the tallboy that's currently there down close to the couch on the other side (just about where the wooden chair is).

I currently have three chairs and one of them doesn't match the table at all either. The other two are black (I've just bought another one of the black one you can see on the right-hand side of the picture above) so while they don't really match, they don't really clash either. I'll have to have a think about that at a later date. For now, I have those three chairs and also have three stools, which is more than enough if I decide to invite people over. The table is 160cm long but can expand out to 210cm - so it's a teensy bit bigger than what I had decided was my maximum of 150cm but what can I say? I just really like it and am so happy to have a proper sized table again. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Almond, lime and chickpea curry with lots of veggies

Right, this whole A-Z thing is standing in the way of me blogging now, so I'm abandoning it for now. In the meantime, here's a recipe for a curry I made last week. I got the basic recipe from the Instagram stories of a guy called Bressie (musician and mental health advocate in Ireland, among other things) and then realised it had almost no vegetables in it. Since I am trying to increase the amount of veg I eat, I went ahead and added a load of them, only finding out during the week from my dietician that (for my weightloss purposes) sweet potatoes are considered to be carbs rather than veg. Same for chickpeas and lentils, although I knew that from having asked a couple of weeks ago. They are definitely "better" carbs, but nonetheless carbs. Oh well.

For most of the winter, I'm planning to cook and eat mostly soups and stews, and lentils and chickpeas will form the bulk of the carb part of my diet in that time. So, here's the recipe. It's very tasty and I will definitely be using it as the basis for more curries from now on. I doubled up on some ingredients to compensate for adding more veg.

2 tins chickpeas (I'll go back to using cooked dried ones at some stage but for now, tins are a big help)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (I used 1 tin and 1 carton of passata)
1 cup of whole, blanched almonds (1 just used most of a 150g packet - there's about 50g left)
Juice of 2 limes (I used a bottle of pure juice and threw in the equivalent of the juice of 4 limes)
1 onion (I used 1 large and 1 small)
3 cloves of garlic (I used minced garlic from a jar, 2 good heaped teaspoons)
1 red chilli
Coconut milk (the list of ingredients didn't actually list this so I just added a small tin)

Spices (I used 2 teaspoons each, the original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of each)
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Ground ginger
Paprika (I used a mild smoked one)

I also added in a large sweet potato (peeled and diced into big chunks), a large carrot (sliced), a leek (sliced) and a 100g packet of baby spinach leaves.

Saute onion, garlic, chilli and spices. Add chickpeas. Add coconut milk. Add tomatoes. Then almonds and lime juice. Bring to boil and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes.

I didn't do that. I just threw everything into the slow cooker, topped it up with enough water to cover everything and cooked the lot on low for about eight hours. Really tasty, really filling and just nicely spicy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Can I get away with "incredible" as my word beginning with "i"? As in, isn't it incredible that it has taken me more than six months to come up with a post for "i"? And in fact, you could add more incredible to the feeling I have right at this moment because I am simply waiting to go to choir in an hour and am not rushing around to try and get something done beforehand. No translations to finish or errands to run. It's actually a bit of a strange feeling. Uncommon for me these days. But nice. Nice enough that I will for now forget about the fact that if I was actually at home, I would have loads of things to do.

The past few months have been ridiculously busy and I have not necessarily been coping well. Last Friday (well, Friday the week before last), however, I sent off the last translation of what felt like a continuous stream of jobs since the middle of August. Apart from a few single days, I was basically translating more or less all the time that I wasn't in work and on the days I didn't have to (or wasn't able to) do anything, I mostly just stayed in bed or lay on the couch reading or, mostly, watching Netflix. Even though I've thought about writing something here again, and even though I really wanted to, I just couldn't seem to find the wherewithal to actually form sentences. Not even for the kind of stream of consciousness post that I have used so often in the past to get me through tougher times. It feels nice that sitting here this evening the thought just popped into my head that I could maybe write a blogpost. Maybe soon I'll even start to feel able for catching up on reading some blogs, as well.

So, apart from too much work, it feels like not much has been going on. I did start a telephone therapy/coaching service (provided by my health insurance place - sort of intended as an interim measure for people waiting for appointments with psychologists or for those like me, who just want a bit of extra help for a while). The first guy I had was pretty awful, to be honest, so before the third appointment, I told him I didn't want to continue working with him. Luckily, the second person I was assigned has been much nicer to deal with and far more supportive in the way that I need and that actually does offer me support.

I started seeing a dietician in February but, to be perfectly honest, this is still a real struggle. I lost about 6 kilos but there was a certain amount of staying the same, gaining a bit, losing again. And now, over the last couple of extremely busy, stressful months, I regained all of the original weightloss and then some. And spent far more money than I could really afford on silly amounts of takeaway, crisps and chocolate. Part of the weightgain, I have to say, is because I've been having massive hormonal issues - seriously, my weight can now fluctuate by up to 4 kilos in the course of two days. However, even though I don't yet have more "good" days than "bad" ones, I have not given up. And I can see the change in my eating habits and how I am thinking about food, even if I still have plenty of days of falling into old behaviours and even if I haven't actually lost a lot of weight since I started nine months ago. It kind of feels like I'm getting close to a critical mass of new behaviours and to reaching the point where I can actually feel like I may be able to actually start consistently losing weight. Knowing that every day I am eating good, healthy food makes it easier to cope with the hormonal weight fluctuations, too. A kind of a "not my fault" thing. I have another appointment with the doctor in December and I will see how I'm coping by then. The progesterone I'm taking is tending to make me fairly emotional, too. Although I've gotten able to recognise the (to me) unnatural fury and/or weepiness, I'm undecided about whether I'm prepared to put up with it. But I don't really want to try any of the other options available either. That's going to me a bit of a wait and see situation for at least another year, I think. Anyway, for now, I'm trying to concentrate on eating good, healthy food. I'm just about saladed out after the summer and looking forward to lots of soups and stews and casseroles in the coming months. Time to break out the slow cooker again!

Monday, April 09, 2018

House and home

Before I came down with the lurgy last week I did make some more progress on fixing up my home. Clearing out the boxes definitely helped. Still have a couple here full of papers and bits and pieces that need to be sorted but my bedroom is feeling so spacious.

After my guests left yesterday, I was putting the sofabed back to sofa mode and decided to turn it around to sit against the long wall instead of the window. I've been considering doing that for a while and although I'm not sure it actually looks or works better, for now I'm going to leave it that way. It feels like there's a little bit more space freed up that I can use to actually exercise in. Although the room does perhaps end up looking a bit narrower.

Much as I love the wooden armchair, I have admitted to myself that it really is just too big for my apartment. I need to clear it off and take a good picture to send to my sister. I think it would match her existing furniture really well but am not sure if she'd like it or want it. Since it was a gift to me from a good friend who was downsizing a few years ago, I'd like to pass it on to someone I know rather than just sell it or give it away to any old person.

Yesterday evening, I bestirred myself for long enough to hang the insect-proof netting curtain thing that I actually bought about a year ago and then never got around to putting up. Need to do some work on getting the side bits properly secured but at least it's up. Another baby step towards creating a home for myself. 

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Fernsehturm at Fairytale Paradise and Guests

Came down with a bad tummy bug yesterday so posting was beyond me. Today I have guests staying so no time.

Thursday, April 05, 2018


Have had a long and exhausting day and have nothing to write about (had been considering doing something on eating - knew it wouldn't be hard to bring the A to Z back to losing weight, in fact suspect I might be able to use every letter to somehow get to the topic). So here's a link to Sammy Davis Jr. singing EO11, from the original Ocean's Eleven film.
If you haven't seen it, I'd definitely recommend it. The "high tech" effects are very dated but the twist at the end is just spectacular.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018


As anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will know, I am very overweight. My attempts to lose weight have gotten less and less successful over the years in the sense that even when I start all over again, I don’t seem to be able to keep it up for more than a week or two, if even that. 

Last May, when I was visiting my sister in France, I spoke briefly with my sister about this, telling her about an article I had read about this luxury fasting clinic (sounds like a contradiction in terms but I think it sounds absolutely heavenly, you can read that article here "Enemas, laxatives and one nut: my ten days at a German fasting clinic") and how I’d actually like to go there. She asked me why I didn’t go to the doctor and ask if there was any equivalent for less-well-off people covered by health insurance. I kind of brushed her off but inside could feel myself getting very defensive just even from her really quite innocuous question. As these things go, I firmly pushed the thought out of my head but by the time summer was drawing to a close and my own attempts had never made it past a day or two, the idea of going to the doctor had worked its way sufficiently through my subconscious. It took me a couple of weeks of thinking about it to actually screw up the courage to go to the doctor and ask for help but I did it. And he was on holidays. Typical. 

Rather than traipse across town (my town is small, it would have been about a ten-minute walk) to the doctor who was covering for him, I sort of heaved a sigh of relief and told myself I’d go and see him when he was back from holidays. Of course by then I had lost my nerve again and it took me another while to actually go to him. Then it was a month or so of sorting stuff out with the health insurance place, getting all the right forms filled, stamped and signed correctly and all that kind of thing. And then, it sort of seemed to happen very quickly and all of a sudden I had my first appointment with a dietician.*

That was on 7th February and today I had my third appointment. I thought it was great that it was working out so well to blog about it today but as it turns out, today’s appointment ended up being incredibly emotional for me and I’m still feeling a bit vulnerable and not wanting to talk about it. Perhaps I’ll find a way to come back to the topic during this A to Z and be able to write something a bit more positive. :)

On the whole, she is being a big help and I have made some progress. I’m a bit caught between knowing how much better I could be doing if I were just a bit better organised and trying to learn how to deal with the situations that my disorganisation lands me in time and again. And, as has been the issue for the last year or two, it’s the keeping at it that is the hard part. I have not managed to keep at it consistently by any means but knowing that there’s another appointment coming up in a few weeks is helping me to at least always keep coming back to trying to do better. I’ve lost 2.6kg (just over 5.5lbs), which to me, is really not a lot to have lost in eight weeks but at least it’s going in the right direction and I know that it’s changing habits and improving my overall eating which is the most important thing for now. If I can get that stuff sorted a bit better, then the weightloss will happen one way or the other.

* I’m using the word dietician partly because it fits nicely into my A to Z. The literal translation of the German word would be “nutrition advisor”. Feel free to substitute whatever word is the appropriate word for the profession that is actually regulated by the government in your country.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018


Forgot to write a post today. Mainly cos I couldn't think of anything good to write of starting with c. Now I'm in bed and thoughts are wandering and I realise I could have written something about the constitution. Or compassion. Or the cinema. Or carrots. Or clocks changing. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, April 02, 2018


Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about how I was going to perhaps move some of the still unpacked boxes out from the bedroom so that I could paint the cupboard and rearrange some stuff before unpacking those boxes. And, that still hasn't happened. It has been bothering me more and more the last while but I couldn't face actually doing anything about it. In the end, I've come up with a throw-money-at-it solution. I need to be careful on this kind of thing. Now that I'm working full-time again, I can loosen the pursestrings a bit but honestly, not all that much.

However, in at attempt to try and create enough physical space to create enough mental space for me to actually get on with things, I've decided to rent a storage space for a while. I'd like to think that it's only for a couple of months but then decided to be realistic and signed up for a year (taking the corresponding discount). It's just a 1 square metre (1.2x1x2.2) space and it'll be costing me €33/month. If I want to switch to a smaller cube (1x1x1) during the year, I can do that, too.

So I hired a car for the weekend, and set to dragging out the (I thought) 12 boxes of cloth and wool and crafty stuff that were piled in my bedroom. Except there were actually 15. And at least five of them had kitchen stuff, documents, books and all sorts. I had totally blocked that out but now that I've looked at them I remember adding them to that pile because I just wasn't ready to deal with them. They were among the last boxes I packed before moving, when it was three o'clock in the morning and just a few hours before the movers were due to arrive and I thought I'd never finish. Even yesterday, nearly two years later, I could nearly feel that panicky feeling coming back. Still, I'm only sending boxes with the crafty stuff to storage, and I'm keeping the other boxes to deal with now.

I do have friends coming to stay next weekend, which is partly what gave me the push to finally tackle this so I think I may end up putting a lot of stuff into that cupboard, just to get it out of the way (which is exactly what I didn't want to do the whole time). But I'm setting myself the challenge to deal with one shelf/large pile every weekend from now until the end of may in an attempt to deal with it once and for all.

The other thing I've squeezed into the storage space is my barbeque. It was the cheapest one available at Argos when I bought it about, well, it must be more about 18 years ago now. I was so looking forward to be able to using it here on the balcony and then a couple of months after I moved in, the house rules changed to state that open flame barbeques are no longer allowed. Very frustrating. I've at least freed up the space on the balcony now and when it comes time to emptying out the storage space, I'll have to think long and hard about whether to keep the barbeque or not. I know the sensible thing is to not keep it and just get another barbeque if I ever have a space again that I can use one in. But I also know that the quality of cheap barbeques today is nothing like the one I have (I'm not the only one who thinks that - have had lots of compliements on what a great barbeque it is from lots of people who have used it, even if it is just a basic round one). Anyway, that decision is being pushed down the road for now.

And in the meantime, I need to get back to the boxes. There are at least two more that can go into storage and then I need to deep clean the space they've all been living in for the last two years. To say it's dusty in there would be an understatement.

Sunday, April 01, 2018


When I was about fifteen or sixteen my dad bought a picture at a charity auction. I remember him telling me at the time that it didn't really matter if a picture was "good" or not. The only important thing is whether or not you like it. If you like it, it's a good picture.

In terms of appreciating art, I've always kept that as my guiding thought. Sometimes though, I really would like to just know more about art. I feel sometimes like I live at a very superficial level, never really doing more than barely scratching the surface. And not must in relation to art but in relation to literature, music and so many other things.

A few years ago I decided to at least try and expand my knowledge of some of the most famous painters' work so now every year, I buy a calendar with a particular artist's work in it. The ones I like are a particular sqaure format (with an equally-sized page underneath with the dates on it in squares that actually have space to write in) and they're not terribly expensive.It has been a good way to expand my knowledge a bit beyond just the most famous paintings of some artists. For example, after a friend was talking about Munch and I had said I didn't like The Scream at all it got me thinking that maybe I should check out what else he had ever painted. Coincidentally, at the end of that year, I happened to see a calendar for Munch in the format I like and I got it. Turns out, he did a lot of stuff that I really do like. But any of his iterations of The Scream or similar? Well, I can easily leave them

This year, I decided to push the boundaries a little bit more and instead of a traditional European master, I chose a calendar of work by Hiroshige. I have to admit I do quite like some of it and it is interesting to look at it and see how different it is to Van Gogh, Monet, or Rothko (some of the others I've had).

Now all I need to do is to find more time to be able to just sit and quietly contemplate what's hanging on the wall!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Blogging the A-Z of April

I did this challenge in 2013 and it seems crazy to me that that it already five years ago. Those who say that time just passes more and more quickly the older you get are absolutely right. For some reason it came to mind again recently and I thought I might to it again. It was definitely an interesting exercise to come up with something to write every day. It's actually about as simple as it sounds, you simply blog every day in April except Sundays (exception this year for 1 April, I think) using A-Z as your guide. There is an official website but I'm not going to actually sign up this year. What I found very stressful last time round was trying to visit other blogs as well. This year, I simply want to do it as a writing/blogging exercise for me. To ease the pressure, I'm also allowing myself to simply post a photo on days that writing something just isn't going to happen easily.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Life is a bit of a slog

Really trying hard to keep going these days. Not getting a lot done but everything little thing take so much mental effort it's like a huge achievement when something does actually happen.

Last weekend got a big black bag (black bags are actually blue over here, but I still call them black bags) and went out to the balcony and dumped all of the dead plants into it. At the end of July last year I had access to a car so I took a detour on the way home and bought soil, compost and stones as well as a few small pots of herbs with plans to fill up all of my big pots, pot on the herbs and maybe plant some bulbs for the spring. And the herbs have been on the balcony dying ever since. Well, I kept them alive for maybe three months. Actually, the parsley still hasn't died, so all is not lost. And the soil and compost have been lying on the living room floor. So, the dead herbs from the balcony, as well as the two amarylis that I got for birthday and xmas presents from work and left outside once they started to die off, went into the bag. And I cleaned up the mess that the sap from the amarylis made when it was knocked over and then we had minus temperatures for a while. I moved the bags of soil and compost outside, which has helped with the little tiny fly problem I've been having, and hopefully, since they had a few days of freezing weather now, too, any remaining fly-offspring have been taken care of, too. Such a simple thing to just drag those bags outside but it honestly took me a couple of months of being really annoyed at those little flies to just do it.

Since I had the industrial strength cleaner (leftover from when I moved) out to take care of the frozen sap on the balcony, I also tried it out on the sap that leaked all over the inside windowsill last year when most of my aloe vera plants died. It was absolutely rock solid and nothing I had tried had worked and it had, quite honestly, added a good bit to my feeling bad over and over and worrying what my landlord would say when he found out. But the industrial strength cleaner, while terrible for the environment, actually managed to do the trick (after leaving it to soak for half-an-hour). So that was one more thing achieved. Today I took the approximately one minute I needed to turn around the butcher's block-style rack I have so that I can easily pull it in and out from under the tiny counter, giving me a bit of space to actually work with. Something that it occured to me might be a good idea probably a year ago. But at least it's done now.

Just about an hour ago, I actually took that black bag, added all the current rubbish to it, and brought it down to the big bin downstairs. Today I have also done a wash, which is now hanging to dry. On Thursday I brought the patchwork blanket downstairs and washed it (I told my brother at the start of February I was going to send it to him - that's how long it has taken me to get up the energy to do that task). Today I've made carrot and orange soup, with five portions waiting to go into the fridge for lunches next week. I ate the final portion of pasta bake that I made last weekend and the final portion (well, ok, two portions but they were small so it's now one very big portion) of the soup I made last week is heating up for me to eat for dinner soon. I've made egg muffins to have for breakfasts again. Last week was the second week I did this and I totally burnt them so I was really careful this week. I'm using six eggs and having three muffins every day for breakfast (Monday to Thursday). This week I added a small onion, half a small leek (both chopped very finely) and a very small carrot (grated) with just a bit of salt and pepper as seasoning. 

I have my second appointment with the dietician next week and am a bit nervous. I have not, to be perfectly honest, been following her plan very much. But I have, especially in the last two weeks, started to mostly eat "from scratch" food, even if it that has often meant bread and a slice of meat or cheese. I have lost some weight, although not a huge amount but it is just taking me a long time to get my head in the game and I really want to take as long as it takes. There is just no point in forcing myself to eat a certain way without changing my behaviour from deep within. One thing I have been relatively successful with was her advice to leave 4-5 hours between meals and not eat anything during that time. I have done this at least between breakfast and lunch on most days and between lunch and finishing work on slightly fewer but still most days. Evenings are most difficult at the moment. And weekends are a bit tricky, too. I haven't yet started to keep a proper food diary. I really need to work on increasing the amount of fruit and veg I eat. I have definitely not kept to the treats twice a week idea and am still eating some kind of chocolate every day. But generally just once a day and a drastically lower amount of rubbish then, too. It might shock some that that's a reduction but there you have it.

The health insurance company has approved a year-long program for me, which means (I think, need to double-check when I see her next week) monthly half-hour appointments with the dietician and eight activity appointments (I think to be able to try out different exercise classes to find one I like). They cover the bulk of the cost and I have to pay €273 for the year (in three instalments of €170, €58 and €45). I think realistically I'll need two to three years to lose the weight I need to lose but every day I do something that aims towards that goal, well, at the moment every instance of doing something feels like an achievement. One day at a time sometimes has to be one hour at a time and sometimes it feels like all of my strength is going into simply not giving up and actually trying again, with very little leftover to actually make any progress. But as long as I can still do even that much, I'll keep trying.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Make-ahead breakfast

First of all, thank you everyone who commented on my last post. Lots of food for thought there. I think I have been/am more depressed than I realised, which doesn't help matters at all.

But I made a small positive step yesterday, having had my first appointment with a dietician a couple of weeks ago but not really implemented anything we talked about. Because my new job involves me getting up very early (leave house just after 6:30, which is really, really early for me), I have fallen back into grabbing something from the bakery to have for breakfast. So on Saturday I bought some eggs and yesterday I actually made what some call egg muffins and could also be called mini pastryless quiches or mini baked omelettes.
Just did these with onion and herbes de provence. And eggs of course. I used 10 medium eggs and it was way too much for my 12-bun bun tray so I got 12 muffins and one more huge one in a mini quiche tray. Next time I'll try it with just six eggs and make 10 muffins. Then I can just grab two on the way out the door each morning. Will experinent a bit with more fillings, too. And try to remember to add fillings to tray and pour eggs over rather than mixing fillings into eggs first. That should hopefully cut down on the amount of filling floating to the top.
No artistic merit to this photo but what the hell, at least I did something good for myself yesterday. And I even did the washing up before going to bed, too!

Sunday, January 07, 2018


My mind keeps circling around the topic of loneliness the last few days. Trying to figure out if that's the main thing that's wrong with my life. I know moving back to Ireland would not be the right decision for me for a multitude of reasons but have actually starting thinking about what it would be like. But although I would be closer to some of my best friends and to most of my family, I don't think it would fix everything else. Wherever you go, there you are.

One of my best friends flew over to Germany just after my birthday and we met up in Hamburg. The weather was atrocious but we had a lovely time. At one stage, we ended up having a conversation about friends and I realised I'd had this conversation with her before a couple of times because I've been trying to articulate something about friendship that was bothering me and that I couldn't quite get a handle on. Partly that came from making more of an effort, when I lived in Dusseldorf, to get out and socialise. To make friends. The thing is, however, I've never really been much of a one for what I'll call the pub life. Heading into your local, seeing who's there, always finding someone to chat to, etc. Dusseldorf was the first time I'd ever really had that and it was kind of nice. But I find it difficult to be friends on that more superficial level. Not that these people (or I) were any less sincere just because we didn't know each other well but just because that was the nature of the friendship. Little or no contact outside the pub so of course it's not the same as being friends with someone you met in school thirty years ago and have shared so much of your life with since.

People say that it's more difficult to make friends when you're older and there is a certain amount of truth in that. I think some of my oldest friends are people I probably wouldn't end up becoming good friends with if we met today. We're just really different people but because of decades of shared experiences and having gotten to know one another before we even knew what kind of people we were, it works. In one way making friends now that I'm older is easier, as I have learned how to swallow my shyness, most of the time, and strike up some kind of small talk if the occasion calls for it. But because I have mostly, during my life, had fewer but very close friendships, I seem to generally think that all friendships should be like that. So the more superficial kind of friendship is something I've really struggled with.

It's made even more difficult by the fact that it's not at all difficult with some people. Especially men, I have to say. I think perhaps it's because I will often follow the lead, no matter who I've met. So those who are very matter-of-fact about things, I can better react in the same way. There's no attempt to make things more than they are. While with others, it seems like if you get along well, they automatically assume you're going to be the best of friends forever. And that, I think, is something that I'm just less inclined to do these days. I'd rather just let things develop organically, or not. So much of what I've experienced just seems so forced. Perhaps I'm just very lucky to have so many really good friends and should have more sympathy for people who seem to feel a lack in that respect. Perhaps it's just the particular situation and people I met in Dusseldorf. But I have to admit that I felt more relief than anything that when I decided to move, I'd be leaving it all behind me. I didn't find it at all difficult and, to be honest, have missed very little of it.*

At any rate, while trying to articulate some of this yet again to my friend in Hamburg I was talkng about one particular woman. She is a lovely person and while we became quite good friends over the eight years I lived there, I've always sort of struggled with it, especially since having left. Even before I moved but after I'd left work, it had started to become a bit, well, onerous. Since we weren't seeing each other in work, it required more effort to meet up. I remember commenting to her once a while after we met about how funny ex-pat life is and how you end up spending time with people just because they're from the same country whereas at home, you'd never really end up spending time with the same people, because you're just so different/don't have anything in common. She got a bit offended at the implication that she and I didn't have anything in common, even though I had been speaking in generalities. Gaaaggh, I feel like I'm tying myself up in knots again to try and explain it. The same was happening in Hamburg until my friend quite bluntly said, "you mean you just don't want it [to be friends with her]". My immediate reaction was "no, no" but even with a couple of seconds I had to admit that she had absolutely hit the nail on the head. No matter how nice that woman is, I'm just really not that interetsed in being very close friends with her. For me, it was a friendship of time and place and it should now just fizzle out to an occasional meeting if we happen to be in each other's area but not be the big effort that I have felt obliged to make. So, I'm working on it and trying to figure out this astounding new idea that I don't have to be best of friends with everybody who's nice and that it's perfectly ok for me to be "superficial" with some people, even if they want more.

I had other things I wanted to braindump about loneliness but it seems like I needed to get all of that off my chest first. Loneliness is a funny thing and I'm not sure why I'm feeling it so acutely at the moment. Because I am close to my family, I do have lots of good friends, I even have a man to enjoy spending time with (although that's only a few times a year as we live in different countries, with phone calls in between, but it suits us and doesn't stop either or us from seeing other people as well; I'm so glad polyamory has become a bit more openly talked about in recent years, if I didn't even know it was a thing, I think I'd have tied myself up in knots about this otherwise) and I have hobbies which give me plenty of social contact, too. But when I was sitting in my armchair yesterday afternoon, almost physically aching with loneliness, none of them were who I needed. I scrolled through my phone contacts twice and just couldn't raise the enthusiasm to call anyone (although I did delete a few of those "pub friends" and that felt good). It's tempting to say that I just want a boyfriend/husband and that does play a big role. While I'm very happy with the relationship I do have, I would like to have someone around every day to share the little things with. Mind you, I don't think I could stand having housemates again, I do mean having someone around that I was in a relationship with. And the fact that I'm realistically never going to have children now plays a role as well. Even the fact that I could adopt if I really wanted a child but will probably never feel the joy of being pregnant and feeling a child growing inside me plays a role. But I sort of feel like all of that just doesn't quite get to the bottom of it either. So it's back to hoping that winter will pass soon and that that will make things feel better again for a while.

* "It" being the pub life and the circle of ex-pat friends related to that. On the other hand, I also became friends with a large circle of people from choir and I really miss that circle. A few became very good friends and we are still in touch and the others I see once or twice a year when I go back up to attend a concert and it's lovely. But the "pub" circle? Don't miss any of them at all and am even still relieved that I don't have to make the effort anymore.