‘Does the jeep come with a petrol station?’
I hope you all enjoyed a happy festive season break from your normal routines and that the New Year has started off with the promise of good things ahead. What an opportunity in 2013 to strive to become even better people than we have been, to reach out and serve others without expecting anything in return! Let’s give ourselves the best chance possible to enjoy a happy, fulfilling year, because that surely is why we are here, right? To serve and enjoy.
When people asked me why I bought my jeep and I told them it was for when it snows, they laughed at me. That wise fellow Flouw (Francois Louw) was the one who gave me the advice to buy a big car to cope with the snow.
I confess that on Friday I chuckled quietly when many of my teammates had to walk to training and the others couldn't get to training at all after about 15cm of snow fell on Thursday night. I just geared my jeep into 4x4 mode and forced my way through the thick snow. It made the extra fuel consumption worth it as I could get around while others were housebound, probably struggling with cabin fever. I’m a farm boy so I like to live outdoors rather than being cooped up indoors!
My petrol bill is becoming a concern though. I now see why my Polish friend Tedeosh Stanislaw (isn’t that a magnificent name?), asked me: “Does the jeep come with a petrol station?” the first time I told him which vehicle I was buying.
Since I arrived in England I have been told repeatedly that it is not normally this wet, there is not normally this much snow, and you don't normally play in conditions this cold. Why all the abnormal weather conditions when I arrive? I am assured by locals that 2012 was the wettest year in England since King Henry VIII was in prep school!
After my debut for Bath against Calvisano in perfect weather and even an opportunity to stretch my legs for a long run-in try, the next weekend was quite the opposite. It was our return match against the same opposition in Italy, and when I told my family and friends that I was going to Italy for the weekend, there was probably a proud tone in my voice and they were even a little envious.
When we landed in Brescia, Italy on Friday evening at 10pm after a delayed flight, and the snow on the ground was about two feet deep, I thought we were in the wrong place. In my naivety, I had envisaged a tough game followed by cocktails and pizza on the Italian coastline. It didn’t quite work out that way. Sometimes in life the promise of an idyllic experience plays second fiddle to reality!
The team against which we played is situated in north-west Italy, a small town (population just under 9 000) in the Lombardy region. We were told the temperature was minus 6 while we were playing, and once I was covered in mud, the battle for survival possibly overshadowed the battle against a spirited Calvisano, but we beat them comfortably in the end.
It has now got to that stage of the winter where the conditioning coaches become concerned about us boys from the Southern Hemisphere. They reckon we become vulnerable to depression due to the lack of vitamin D which we normally gain in abundance from sunlight, seeing as though it has been grey overhead for ninety percent of the last two months.
When my dose of bright yellow vitamin D tablets was handed to me I remarked that they looked like an African sunset. ''If you listen closely you'll hear a lion roar,'' my trainer said with a smile. I imagine the wildest animal he has seen is a hare. I shall have to invite him to Africa to hear a real lion roar!
My girlfriend arrived just before New Year on a two-month visit. In my excited anticipation of her arrival, I cleaned the entire flat – meticulously I thought – washed all the dishes and neatly packed away all the clothes lying around. Soon after her arrival she re-cleaned everything, including the dishes. While commending my good intentions and sterling effort, she said that it was only 'superficially clean'. I'm still trying to figure out what that means, and my confidence in my domestic skills has taken a massive knock.
It’s been absolutely wonderful to have her here with me to enjoy a shared experience of living in Bath. A bonus is that the flat remains spotlessly clean – yes, I work hard at it, but am now under instruction from my supervisor! We have been doing proper grocery shopping, too, and cooking that would do Jamie Oliver proud. Her departure to visit family this week reminded me of a book we studied in matric. The title was 'Things fall apart.’
I have now played four games since my eight-month injury layoff, and it is becoming a lot easier to get into games and feel I am making a real contribution. Everything is starting to come more naturally, but this is a process that doesn't happen overnight. I have tried not to be too hard on myself, and am taking everything as a learning experience for now. Nothing can match the collisions and pressure of game-time to get a player returning from injury back into top form, and with every outing I will get closer to where I want to be. I'm still some way off, but my knee feels strong and I am at least more confident now about making an impact this season
I need to get going on cleaning and tidying my flat; the boss arrives back in Bath this evening. Have a fantastic week!