Thursday, 24 November 2011

Snow. It's a waiting game.

I'm sat in the staffroom of one of the schools where I work, looking out on one of the most stunning panoramas Austria has to offer. The most striking thing, however, is not the gargantuan mountain that dominates this breathtaking vista, but rather the rich array of autumnal colours that give life to an already beautiful landscape. Now this may sound ideal, but there is a tangible frustration in the air, that lingers like a valley mist on a frosty morning, and one question remains unanswered: where is the goddamn snow? Austria in winter is possibly the most spectacular place in Europe and we are still waiting for a proper snowfall. Now, I am aware that this problem is ubiquitous throughout Europe at the minute, but it feels more accute here in Tyrol because winter and the resulting surge in tourism is the very heart of the region. This frustration is just as strong for me as I specifically chose to return to Tirol for the winter season. So my plea to whichever deity or being that wants to listen is this : just turn on the snow and make me a happy man. I'm not sure how much more of this I can take.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A Few Thoughts on Life in Austria.

As I sit gazing vaccantly outside watching the snow come down, giving the world outside an optimistic sheen, my thoughts turn once more to my shockingly erratic blogging habits. So in a brief update, I am now back in Kitzbühel for a second stint as an English assistant. Having been here for nearly a month now, I have had time to reflect on the reasons why i came back and have concluded I have been entirely vindicated in my decision to coem back. There is a tangible way of life to living in a Ski-resort, far removed from reality, and considering the weather outside, i can only look forward to the winter with real excitement, as this is when it really "kicks off". We are a matter of weeks away from the build up to christmas here and this brings a whle new set of experiences.

 Firstly, the whole of Austria converts into one big, aroma-filled christmas market that can put Birmingham's offerings to shame. Secondly, we have that magic elixir to solve all the worlds problems: glühwein. mmmmmmmmm. The sights and smells of Austria in the 6 weeks before christmas are the very essence of why I love this country so much, (even if your students insist on playing Wham in your christmas lesson. One of the reasons i left the UK.) It follows the same mantra, the evidence of which is ever-present in Austria - you can never have too much cinnamon.

So as a final thought, Over the next 4 weeks i am going to find myself counting down the days til that first hot steaming mug of delicious spiced goodness. and in the meantime, theres always Jägermeister.

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Dilemna of Success.

As I sit here watching Alastair Cook march remorselessly on towards a mammoth innings and what should be a massive victory for England, I look forward with apprehension to England being the number one test side in the world. Considering tomorrow is the start of the Premier League season, this will be reacted to in one of two ways. Either, as I suspect, it will be overlooked by most of the press to be overshadowed by the usual minutii of a footballer's life that is the bread and butter of tabloid sports editors, or we shall see what I like to call the Chris Hoy effect. This is the hideous glorification, bordering on prostitution of a sporting star after what the British Public perceive to be tangible success.

I would never try and play down the sporting success of one of our great olympians, and he fully deserves the recognition he gained from the Queen as a result of his gold medals. However, as is the norm with sports outside the mainstream, his standing with the public rose at a rate that was much to fast to be healthy. This ugly exploitation of our sporting icons was best exemplified when I was talking to a friend about the olympics in 2008 and he said we didn't have a chance of a gold medal. I proceeded him to enlighten him about our stunning success at the world track cycling championships that year. I was met, however with indifference on his part. We broached the subject once more a year later, and once again we mentioned Chris Hoy, who was identified by my friend as the Scottish man from the Bran Flakes advert. Now my friend is a very astute man, but this was unforgivable in my eyes and shows the British attitude to sucess. We flit from one icon to another, hand them an MBE and then move on for them to be forgotten the next time our football team scrapes even further the barrels of mediocrity.

Back to the world of cricket and I hope that our status of (hopefully) world's best does go relatively unnoticed so I can enjoy the fact that this is a side we have watched grow in the last 2 years. A side so completely balanced, they seem untouchable at the minute. That way we can let the majority of people concentrate on what Wayne Rooney had for lunch and leave the real success stories, ( our cricket side, Mark Cavendish and our rapidly improving rugby team, to name but a few) to those who really appreciate them. Oh and we have the world's number one golfer and the last two major champions to boot!

Monday, 28 March 2011

a rally for all final year students.

Although it has been a while since my last attempt at a blog, it is fair to say that not a great deal has happened, except the observation of the disturbingly fast rate at which time seems to be passing these days. Where as yesterday saw us in February, with still a significant amount of time for anyone feeling doubts about their degree to turn it around, here we are now in the last week of teaching we are ever going to have. Whilst this does bring with it a few positives (no more Sprachpraxis) it is also a reality check that we have only 6 weeks before exams begin in earnest, which, quite frankly is not a thought one relishes. There is however a consolation, a metaphoric wooden spoon if you will, to the many, many hours spent in the library or whichever other sanctuary you choose to shut yourself into, desperately trying to cram for the philology exam, or finally getting round to learning gender rules for French nouns (both will be the case for me), and this is that we are all in this together. nb, this is not a reference to the cheap plasticality that is High School Musical. I speak of the tangible cameraderie that exists between people suffering the same fate, a mutual respect to the mammoth and daunting task ahead that is final exams and dissertations. So when you are struggling to motivate yourself, as i am perpetually doing, remember that it is only for a few more weeks. The final big push before the titanic hangover the morning after Grad ball. To conclude then i can only wish everyone as unstressful and productive an easter break as possible and a fruitful use of the extra day off for the royal wedding.

once more, good luck! I think we will all need it,

Monday, 31 January 2011

Transfer Deadline Day. A sad day for everyone.

Whilst we all immerse ourselves in the outrageous hype surrounding the end of the transfer window, one can't help but notice almost everything else is ignored until that magical moment, 11pm tonight in this case, when the 6 months of solid speculation comes to its inevitably dissapointing climax and we can all revel in Paul Konchevsky's loan move to Nott's Forrest. Hardly the stuff of 2 years ago and the Robinho saga. However, when there is the slightest possibility of almost anything interesting happening, no matter how sensational, we all seem to cling on to that hope like we are clinging on to our very lives. So despite a supposed £50 million bid for Fernando Torres (possibly the most ludicrous amount ever bid for a player) you just can't help getting the feeling today is going to fizzle out like Andy Murray's title chances at a grand slam, something which was the sole topic of discussion 24 hours ago.

I think this is the very problem with Britain today. We are almost incapable of focusing on more than one major news story at a time. We flit from Tevez leaving, to the Ashes and finally to the horror of Transfer deadline day. Descend into any brach of Lidl nationwide and i would wager very few people could tell you of the serious stories gracing the headlines this morning. I speak of the unrest in Egypt, the tragic death of composer John Barry, and of course - Dominic Cork being voted out of Dancing on Ice! Perhaps the latter would be the most common answer, although I would never presume to cast apersions of the Clientel of one of the country's top 9 supermarkets.

Perhaps I am being uncharitable and underestimate the importance of the various business dealings Football's elite. As a massive fan myself I have been craving a bit more digging into the pockets of Wolves chairman, Steve Morgan and have thusfar been disappointed. So i will therefore be eagerly following the Deadline Day drama along with the rest of the footballing world. I am also going to spare a thought, though, for competitors in other sports who have to compete with the behemoth that is Football. Sportsmen and women who can only dream of earning half the salary of the average Manchester city player. People like Alberto Contador, Three time winner of the Tour de France who has probably unjustly, if slightly amusingly, been handed a one year ban for a negative drugs test during last year's tour. A man who cycles in excess of 20,000 km a year and is payed virtually nothing for it. All of the other great sports neglected by the public unless we have some great success in the olympics or at their respective World Championships. First on this list is track cycling. Very few people knew of the existence of Chris Hoy, who had been succeeding on the sane scale long before Beijing. However, whwen we finally meet with some sucess on a more prolific stage, he is immediately hailed as a national hero and awarded with honours accordingly. Alas the olympic bandwagon still does not take into account the fact these sports have to apply for their funding and many are in danger of losing it altogether.

With my incoherent ramblings almost over it only remains for me to wish you a very happy Transfer deadline and Hope that you may find exilharation in Stephen Ireland and his loan spell at Newcastle.

May the text commentary never cease to entertain!