The last week has truly been a mix of happiness and sadness. Like the rest of the world, Saturday morning saw us wake to the terrible new of Paris the night before. Paris is my absolute favourite city, and I felt extremely sad at what had happened there. As a result, Europe truly has been a bit chaotic in the last few days. As expected, the borders have now been closed between many countries and in Germany we are expected to have our 'Ausweis' (papers/passport) on our person as a form of identification. I am extremely lucky I have a German passport as it has avoided a lot of questions!
As I had somewhat expected, the weather here made Mum and I quite sick in the last week. Most unlike me, I spent a Sunday sleeping entirely, barely opening my eyes for a quick spot of dinner before I again slept all night. Finally, we dragged ourselves to the Doctor surgery to find out Mum had bronchitis and I had the trailing end of a viral infection. Just lovely! A few doses of absolutely disgusting medication later, and we started to feel better by the end of the week.
Despite this, Lotus has trained exceptionally well this week. She is feeling much more like her normal self after her burst of hormones, and is certainly less argumentative. Mares! Why I insist on owning four, I will never know. Regardless, each day I felt like we made progress and looking back, my riding has truly progressed in a short space of time.
Lotus is extremly unimpressed about the cold weather.
The weekend saw Dad fly out from home to come for a visit before we all head back to Australia for Christmas. It has been 5 weeks since we have seen each other, and both mum and I were very excited to catch up. My brilliant plan of leaving Münster at 5am to reach Frankfurt at 7:30am to collect Dad as he was exiting the gate failed spectacularly. Dad's plane had pushed back late from Abu Dhabi, due to a technical problem which meant he had to change planes entirely to a completely different airline.
Dad had originally wanted to get the train from Frankfurt as it is about the same time as travelling via road. Because I just had to have my own way, I convinced him through several conversations and nagging texts that the 350€ for the ticket would be much better spent buying something worthwhile (those pair of Petrie top boots I've been eyeballing and I'm exactly 350€ short?) and the fuel for the car was a cheaper option. Well didn't that kick me in the behind!
We were 10mins into our journey, rain, fog and high wind in the pitch black of night when BAM... A bright light stunned us like deer-in-the-headlights. Both Mum and I let out particularly bad words as we realised the bright flash was in fact, a speed camera and Mum collected her second speeding fine in just 3 months. Although this time I can safely say we were doing just 5km over the speed limit, and in the pitch black morning we didn't even see the camera. I guess that's the idea but I really can't wait to see our stunned faces on the front page of the fine!
The trip got worse the closer we got to Frankfurt. Just 30mins away from the airport, we found ourselves stuck in stationary, bumper-to-bumper traffic that went for 37km. Naturally, at this moment, my body decided it needed a bathroom urgently and the next half hour, during which we successfully moved 2km, was spent very seriously contemplating using my now-empty coffee cup as a loo! The sun does not make itself present until nearly 8am here and combined with darkness, traffic, a full bladder and millions of cars I was just about at the end of my tether!
The traffic outside Frankfurt.
FINALLY, an hour and a half later, we pulled into Frankfurt airport. There was one car park space left, and come hell or high water, I was mowing over anybody that got in my way to make sure that damn space was mine. Luckily, the only thing I had to fight was a luggage trolley. As it turned out, that car space was so far away from Gate E it was ridiculous and I got us lost on an unknown stairwell trying to find our way to the terminal because I refused to wait for the lift.
After what felt like a lifetime of dead-end stairwells and creepy corridors, we spied Dad by the coffee shop, waiting patiently and looking like he'd just strolled out of a supermarket. The fallout from the Paris attacks meant that the airport was a nightmare. Police stopped anyone, anywhere for their papers. Dad had been stopped three times before even making it to his baggage carousel.
That afternoon Dad finally got to meet what he affectionately calls 'the drain through which the money flows'. Lotus was extremely interested in this new person who came bearing lots of her favourite mint snackies. Dad said later that he was very surprised at how much Lotus' personality was like Ultra's and how quiet she was. Horses here are desensitised to a lot that ours would normally not deal with so well at home, but I also think Lotus is a bit of a cool dude. Lotus must have food, mint snackies and face tickles and all will be well with the world.
Our lovely weather forecast.
The weather has truly begun to look like winter. The trees are bare, it's dark by 4:30pm and snow is predicted for 5 days out of 7 next week with a maximum temperature of 4 degrees. Complaints to my Oma over the phone usually result in the standard response of "I told you winter was crap in Europe! Why do you think I left Germany for Australia?". The last few weeks here before Christmas will be spent training and building muscle for both Lotus and I. It's easy to forget that Lotus is just 7, and we are both learning new ways to do things.
Our post-training stroll in the rain.
Our next competitions are booked in for early January and we are anxiously awaiting the finalisation of the FEI calendar which will confirm which events next year will be the qualifiers for Rio.