The long silence has been due to the continuing inconvenience of exams intruding on life. The week long practical exam of the last post was followed by a couple of written exams a week or so later, and finally today I have to go and do four fifteen minute interviews. This, I strongly suspect is because the education ministry has realised it’s cheaper to grade us with oral exams than pay for someone to mark written papers.

It is a strange feeling that to have exactly one hour left of a two year course.

On the other hand, it means by this evening we’ll all know our grades and whatever has happened everyone can generally relax: I’ll have two weeks off before I start work, and I won’t have to spend them looking at index cards…

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Exams are kicking in at the moment, hence the lack of posts here. The coming week is a practical exam, where I go off to a workshop for people with disabilities and train someone to do something, which is more fun but unfortunately less photographically interesting than my last exam.

I’ve been allocated somewhere way over yonder on the north side of the city (while people living there have to commute to a workshop just down the road from here, which seems a bit silly) It is also on a greenfield site and I’m not sure how many buses run past the door so I’ve borrowed a folding bike for the week just in case.

This of course involved a logistical exercise because the tram stop is in the next village, which meant a slightly complicated multimodal journey involving the Bakfiets, folding bike, and tram, but I made it in the end.

Tomorrow we’ll see if I need it.

Recently I’ve been noticing a change in the morning ride to the tram stop. The sky is becoming brighter, and occasionally there is blue visible. On some rather exciting days several people reported seeing the sun for several seconds at a time.

Spring is happening. And about time too.

A proper tree hugging hippy isn’t supposed to worry about things like winter of course, we’re supposed to, as it were, chill. However, a combination of exams and spending days in a concrete fridge in central Stuttgart have left your correspondent with a severe vitamin D deficiency and a strong desire to hibernate, so when we were greeted by the sunrise above on Friday, we went into the weekend ready to welcome Spring.

And then Saturday dawned…

So, when you make it a new years resolution to write a weekly post, don’t then contract a rather nasty strain of ‘flu the week before the exams start.

I’d been feeling a bit rough last week for a couple of days with a cough and runny nose, then I was on my way to the privvy one evening and realised that if I didn’t lie down right away then my body would take matters into its own hands. After about 20 minutes I was still on the floor albeit feeling rather better so we called the overnight doctor. They came, checked a couple of things and called for a (non-emergency) ambulance to take me to hospital.

Of course, my Asthma, which has been pretty much under control for the last two years, took this opportunity to have a party as well. I did point out that with four tests on the next four weeks and exams after that, this was a very inconvenient time, but it didn’t make any difference.

I’m much better now but any remaining brain capacity will have to be used for revising over the next weeks.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible…

We have a friend who is an artist, a proper artist who actually knows what he’s doing and earns money and everything. Every year he sends us and a lot of other people a postcard with an ink drawing on it as a new year card, and every year I told myself I’d try and do the same and promptly forgot about it.

This year I finally got myself into gear and drew a sketch of the Wolfstor in Esslingen am Neckar, then inked the lines over several lunch breaks, and possibly in the occasional dull lecture.

Click here to find the mistakes.

Last week we were given notice of about four modular exams, so I’m going to have to stop making pretty pictures and get on with revising. Still, at least I managed to make a drawing this year. Maybe I’ll remember to make the 2019 sketch before the year changes…

 

Towards the end of the holiday the weather got bored with being wet and windy, and went to just being cold for a couple of days, leaving your correspondent with the usual dilemma: Should I take advantage of the sudden blue skies to clean wash about three months of accumulated crud off the bikes, or should I just ride a bike?

No contest really.

Having made it through the unfortunate mess that is Stuttgart Airport, I broke out into fields again, and past this monument to a more civilised form of flying. Apparently this is where one of the first Zeppelins made an emergency landing in a field with the great man on himself on board.

After making repairs they took off again and flew to Friedrichshafen. Try that with a 747.

Off to the next village…

And on, through the fields. These hills are the same as those seen from our balcony. I really should stop whining about where I live.


This was my goal: Hardthausen church. Churches in the region are very distinctive so I tend to use them as markers on a ride.

As I approached Stuttgart again things began to unravel. a mix of poor signage and poor guesswork landed me riding uphill on a busy road with drivers honking their horns at me. I’m going to assume they and the motorcyclist who shouted something indistinct and waved a boot in my direction were simply trying to be encouraging.

Then after following the route around the airport for several kilometres, I found this:

There was a small piece of paper taped to this showing a ‘diversion’ that went back along the way I’d come, then through another village and into a valley, using another busy road and adding about 3 hilly miles to the journey.

The other side of the roadworks, the crane is the same one as in the other image.

Sharp eyed viewers will notice that I could have gone around the fence and cycled the hundred yards or so straight through the roadworks, as it was a Sunday and they were empty of construction workers.

Of course, I was very good and didn’t do this.

This isn’t far from our town, just a short ride down into the valley…

And up the Hill Of Doom on the other side, which is the unfortunate end of every ride around here and never gets photographed because that would require me to stand up straight and be able to focus after the climb.

I managed 32km in total. Not much but it wasn’t meant to be a serious ride. Anything more adventurous will have to wait until after exams.

One of my resolutions for this year was to get back to writing a new entry here every Saturday.

I’m not sure how well that’s going to work to be honest. Apart from my non-existent work ethic I’ve realised that the final exams for my Occupational Therapist course, which up until now had been far far away, are suddenly looming with a couple of months to go.

From tomorrow I have about four more weeks of normal lectures (including at least two tests, whoopee…) and then a month or so of exam preparation, then in early March I’ll be given the address of a randomly selected workshop for people with disabilities where I’ll get a client and have a week to prepare a 30 minute training session, write a report, and then and do the training session with an examiner watching.

Then it goes quiet until late March when I have two written exams, and then on April the 19th it’s the the last push: six fifteen minute interviews one after the other. I’ll get my grades on the same day.

In theory I should start work the week after. I’m working on that minor detail.

All this is to say I may be posting entries even less regularly than I managed last year. I just thought I’d better get my excuses in early.

I have it on good authority that I am a nerd: I was told repeatedly when I was at school, although the main definition of ‘nerd’ was “Doesn’t understand minutiae of football” and “Doesn’t base self esteem on how his football team did last weekend” which I think was the pot calling the kettle black frankly.

I used the time I could be obsessing about a bunch of people kicking a bag of wind in making models. This means I was considered even worse than a Nerd: I was ‘Boring’: I didn’t even blow things up on computers, for goodness’ sake.

So I embraced my inner nerd. I even got a job partly on the basis of that when I showed my carpentry master a dimensioned design I’d made for some models I was working on. Skills gained making models are also surprisingly useful in the largely improvised world of occupational therapy.

Besides, with three boys things break in strange and unusual ways. This Christmas the boys got a high-tech marble run with magnets and other exciting things and which I wasn’t allowed to play with because the boys have grown out of eating small objects and know more about physics than I do. It contained the little green component above, which succumbed to laws of physics after a couple of hours, and which is pretty simple to fix if you are the sort of person that has a stack of really fine brass rods and tiny hand drills just lying about.

So there: Nerds rule.

They still wouldn’t let me play with the marble run though. Next time I’m going to demand access for repairs…

Happy Christmas and New Year, and thanks for reading along for the last twelve months…

Now I’m off to do something more festive. See you later…

 

With the snow coming down in great lumps I finally gave in and fitted spikes on my main commuting bike. It was snowing so fast that by the time I finished clearing our entranceway and went inside, it was almost impossible to see where I’d started, so it seemed a good idea to be snow ready for the morning commute, especially as the cycle lanes locally aren’t cleared because “That’d mean putting salt on them and salt is bad for the environment.”

As I fully expected, within 24 hours the snow vanished and the roads were back to their normal state of being just damp enough to make everything thoroughly muddy. Since then we’ve had rain with temperatures just above freezing so the roads were wet, or subzero temperatures and dry roads.

This happens every year, without fail.

I’ve kept the snow tyres though, because with exams coming along I’m a bit short of time to change tyres again, and from experience¬†snow clouds will sneak over the horizon and we’ll have about a week of blizzards within hours of me putting semi slicks back on the bike.

I suspect I’ll now spent most of the winter dragging myself to the tram stop and muttering about how I’m definitely going to get a new set of wheels by next winter, and then forget to do anything about it by Spring…

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