Archive for the ‘Resolutions’ category

A little bit of resolve

May 5, 2009

I have decided to add “resolutions” to my list of categories.

Every couple of months, weeks, sometimes days, I come up with some new self improving decree, something that will make me better, stronger, faster and all that, then I pretty much invariably fail to carry them out. To this end, I feel I should start making them public – or at least as public as one can consider a blog with an average of less than one view per day.

My most recent resolution was to update this blog everyday, which I have managed about 70% of the time.  Unfortunately, in recent days, I’ve found that I’ve had very little to talk about.  I’ve spent the last few days in my room watching TV shows online, leaving my room just to go to class, the shops or the gym.  It has not been an exciting time.

And this frustrates me!

I am currently on my Erasmus year, currently entering the Twilight of my time abroad with only eight weeks left at the University of Vienna and I’m disappointed in myself that I’ve seen so very little of the city.

I’ve found with a few Erasmus students that they’ve not really seen many of the sights – even those that were here for the first semester as well – and it’s not apathy, so much as the idea that the city will still be there tomorrow, two months still seems like a long time, even if it will fly by.  I need to motivate myself to get out and see things.

My Vienna City Guide has 58 pages given over exclusively to sights.  Every evening I will pick a place and go there the next day, camera in hand and see what I see and I’ll write about it in the evening.  What will come from that?  I don’t know, but I saw so many interesting things in Seville because I spent a lot of time walking around the city and I want that to be the case here.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to start keeping a food diary again, using the book that I originally drafted my blog entries in.  I’d like to find some use for it other than a guilt trip with an attractive cover, but no inspiration has struck me as yet.  I’ll take it with me tomorrow and see if I can think of anything to put in it.

Finally, for the first time, I present:

Tomorrow’s destination: Landstrasse, which is technically cheating as I’ve been there before.  The Schloss Belvedere, one of the first places I visited in the city, is there and I want to film my first Viennese vlog outside it, but there are a few other things out there, which I didn’t see last time.


This is the house that Ben built

April 10, 2009

That’s it!  I’ve written I title; I have stared a blog.  I’ve thought about started one several times, but it is a personal failing of mine that I will always allocated some future date for some alleged or arbitrary significance:

” I’ll start going to the gym on the first day of next month.”

“I’ll give up chocolate during lent”

These days are all fine days for starting something, but there always exists a time between the starting date and me, during which I can always forget about my pledge.  As the songs says, tomorrow is always a day away.  So away with needless preparation time or waiting time or whatever it may be.  I’ve already had this account for nearly six months; today is as good a day as any other.

However, in spite of that rant on the importance of days, today is Good Friday.  And it was a good Friday, I helped build a house.

The word “helped” is probably a bit strong, it would be more truthful to say that my presence was tolerated, as I don’t think the work was completed any quicker because of me (and I can only hope it wasn’t completed any slower).

I’m currently in Kitzbühel, the town in which I was born, staying with Robert and Waltraud, and old couple who lodged my parents for three years after I was born and who have allowed me to stay several times since.  They are incredibly hospitible and make sure that I want for nothing.  Unless, of course, I want to help.

Waltraud is determined that I enjoy my time here, so I can barely carry plates to the tabel because “you should not do that on holiday”.  I am somewhat resigned to it by now, but I can’t help but feel guilty when they’re doing so much for me and won’t take any help or payment in return.  So it was that when Robert asked if I wanted to help with the construction of his son, Paul’s, house, I lept.  I threw on some clothes to get dirty in and (being an eternal tourist) grabbed my camera.

Within minutes of getting there I realised that the camera was unneccessary.  Paul’s house is an ongoing project which father and son have been working on – between Paul’s job as a chef – for about 10 years, and Paul has been living there most of that time.  That’s not to say his living quarters are unpleasant; many of the rooms are alrady finished.  But the top floor is still under semei-constant construction.  Paul saves his money, then buys all the necessary materials to fit out another part of the house, after which he needs to save up again before moving on.  He was working for some of those savings that evening, so we had to work fast.

That afternoon we had to fix some skirting boards in a loft space and it was during this time that I saw a different side to Robert and Paul.  The process involved a lot of shouting orders, both at each other and at me, broken occasionally when Robert would disagree with something Paul was suggesting, after which there would be a brief, loud argument, with Paul usually winning.

An expertly fitted skirting board

An expertly fitted skirting board

... and a less expertly fitted skirting board

... a less expertly fitted skirting board

After finishing the skirting boards, covered with saw dust and me suitably proficient with a circular saw, we moved on to attatch some plant trestles to the balcony.  This let me see a fantastic view of Kitzbühel.  True, most parts of Kitzbühel have a fantastic view, such is the appeal of the town, but as I held the trestles in place while Paul screwed them into place, I looked at the town and reflected on why I like it so much.

Paul's house, now with room for window boxes

Paul's house, now with room for window boxes

True, I was born here, but I left for England when I was three and have only been back a handfull of times in the intervening 18 years.  But it’s a beautiful place, in stark contract to the town I grew up in and I feel a spiritual connection to it.  I feel more refreshed and energised for having been here.

I think right now, though, Kitzbühel is special to me because it has a timeless quality.  Nothing seems to change here, Paul was building his house when I was last here, he may still be building it even if I don’t come back for another six years.  People will come here to ski in the winter and golf in the summer.  Those mountains aren’t going anywhere and neither is the town nestled between them.

In the past year, I’ve had a lot of major changes in my life suddenly forced upon me, both at home and as a result of my year abroad.  Somewhere in there, I need a rock.  I need something that will always be there and always be beautiful.  That’s what Kitzbühel is to me and even if I don’t visit it often, knowing that it’s there is a comfort.