Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Introducing my darling Mr PB: a love story Part 2

Well a lot of you seem to be old-fashioned letter lovers, judging from your comments!Okay, where was I? Oh, yes, the breathless reunion in Heathrow (Mr PB was quite amused by that description as he thought it sounded a bit, er, steamy. That wasn’t my intention – I was referring to the fact that we ran towards each other!). It was a bit melodramatic, a bit romantic-film-like but also a blessed relief to be finally reunited after several months apart. The embrace was long and happy tears were shed. We had to pinch ourselves to believe that we were finally together again. The endless wait was over. Here we are in London.
The flipside, of course, was that the unavoidable countdown of the three weeks until our separation then commenced. There was so much to do before then! After a whirlwind whiz around London, we made our much longed-for visit to historic Oxford where we caught up with Hobart friends studying there. As fans of C S Lewis and the film ‘Shadowlands’, we made our pilgrimage to The Eagle and Child pub and imagined him meeting there with Tolkien for a leisurely chat over a pint each week. We then had a whistlestop trip up to Newcastle near the Scottish border where Mr PB was studying and a wander around the verdant Yorkshire dales, enjoying the merriment of a knees-up cèilidh (party) put on by the local Rotarians. They were fascinated to meet the girl Mr PB had spoken of so often and were most welcoming.

Trinity College's awe-inspiring library
We then winged it over to fabulous Dublin with its rich history, viewing the famous Book of Kells manuscript on display at historic Trinity College, peering up at the imposing Guinness Brewery (we couldn’t fit in a tour, to Mr PB’s dismay) and striding up and down the well-ordered streets of this ancient city. Ah, bliss! We then set out on a leisurely week’s clockwise wander around pretty Ireland in a zippy little hire car, doing it ‘on the run’ with our trusty Lonely Planet Guide, staying at bed and (enormous Irish) breakfasts at postcard-perfect little villages like Skibbereen, Dingle and Galway along the way. We revelled in the wildness of the Connemara district’s rolling valleys and dark lakes and the freedom of travelling on the open road in a foreign land without any bookings or plans to follow, other than making it to the airport on time. Ah, life was sweet, two young lovers roaming, footloose and fancy-free.

With Christmas fast approaching, we then flew in to dear old Germany to spend the festive season with my favourite host family from my days as a Rotary exchange student back in 1989. Warmly welcomed into the family, we stayed for an enchanting week in pretty Münster, an old city founded as a monastery in 793, complete with walled ramparts (I’ll do some a separate post about the place at some stage – it well deserves one of its own). What a magical time it was! Being Advent time, the glorious Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) was in full swing in the cobble-stoned city centre.
We wandered around there at night, Christmas lights a-twinkle, drinking plenty of warming Glühwein and feasting on steaming Bratwurst (sausages). We treated ourselves with pretty Christmas trinkets such as the delightful handmade wooden Erzgebirge nutcrackers and nativity scenes. The city’s main street, the Prinzipalmarkt, was a sight to behold, bedecked with lights and Christmas wreaths. We really were pinching ourselves, unused as we were to the bitterly cold weather, more accustomed to Australian Christmases in the middle of summer. Here's the Prinzipalmarkt - ooh! I want to live there again. Sigh.
The centuries-old German traditions of celebrating Christmas fascinated us. We were particularly struck by the way the main festivities occurred on Christmas Eve, after a traditional church service. The younger generation gathered in a darkened room until we heard the quiet tinkle of a bell, supposedly by the ‘Christkind’, summonsing us to gather at the Christmas tree. We stood there in awe, gazing up at the three metre high pine tree (which we had selected from a local forest only days before and lugged back on the roof of the car for erection), bedecked with glowing candles from top to bottom while German Christmas carols played in the background. There was much merriment over the exchange of presents which was followed by a sumptuous feast of roast goose (which had been freshly plucked by Omi, the children's grandmother, the day before) with all the trimmings and plenty of Sekt (German sparkling wine). Here I am at night's end, blowing out the tall top candles by puffing up this heavy metal pipe.
A lengthy overnight train trip through snow-covered countryside over to fascinating Berlin then followed. We wandered the length of the charming main avenue, Kurfürstendamm, Berlin's equivalent of the Champs-Élysées. We marvelled at the ruined shell of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche and ogled at the luxurious stores, especially the stunning Kaufhaus des Westens, Europe’s second largest department store. 
We checked into the well-appointed youth hostel and then popped into a pizzeria for dinner. The oddest thing then happened. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some young Germans at a nearby table who looked vaguely familiar. Dismissing that as impossible, I then tried to concentrate on what Mr PB was saying. However, by this stage, our fellow diners were looking at us, pointing animatedly. One of the girls called out ‘Jane’ and rushed over. We couldn’t believe it – I had gone to school with them in Münster in 1989! The whole group leapt up, slapping us on the backs and before we knew it, given that New Year’s Eve was the next night, they invited us to join them then to celebrate. Talk about luck!

The next evening, we (somewhat shyly at first) met at Karim’s apartment where we were welcomed with open arms, like long-lost friends. Just extraordinary. We supped on a sumptuous meal of raclette, drank merrily and celebrated the complete happenstance of our meeting like that. Talk about random! The evening passed in a hazy blur of laughing, translating, gesticulating and hugging. Then we hit the streets in search of more fun, ending up at a cavernous discotheque with thousands of other young people.

After hours of dancing, we traipsed to the extraordinary Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), the focus of the celebrations on the magical night of 9 November 1989 when the Berlin Wall was breached for the first time. Thousands of people surrounded us, a seething mass of happiness. Firecrackers were released randomly in all directions by onlookers. We wandered around, drinking champagne and joining in the general merriment and high jinks.

Then something even more surreal happened. I need to backtrack a little to give you the context. It’s hard to grasp now but I had visited both East and West Berlin twice in 1989, before the Wall was opened up. I had stood on the western side of the Gate in West Berlin in front of the Berlin Wall (the Gate was behind it) and peered over at Soviet-backed East Berlin, anxiously noticing the stern border guards. I had also stood on the eastern side of the Gate in East Berlin behind the barricades which prohibited any approach to the Gate. Goose-stepping soldiers had patrolled in front of my eyes, jealously guarding ‘no-man’s-land’. Severe-looking guards had peered out of the tall watchtowers on the border, watching for any possible escape attempts.
And then there we were, only four years later, tearing around, making merry with thousands of strangers on newly reunited Berlin. The Wall had gone. The city was reunited.  Here's a blurry photo of Mr PB with the Gate behind him. Before we knew it, we found ourselves caught up in a vast conga line of thousands of merrymakers which then snaked its way under and around the Brandenburger Tor. This was absolutely astounding – only years before, we would have been shot for being there. It was a glorious, magical night and one we’ll never forget.

But, unfortunately, the party was soon over and we caught the train back to Münster before driving with my host family down to Frankfurt Airport where Mr PB and I had a teary farewell before he returned to the UK. I returned home to Hobart shortly after, both delighted by the wondrous time we had shared but also utterly bereft. And that, my friends, is my next tale!


This was rewound on 6 March 2011 at Weekend Rewind at Life in a Pink Fibro.


  1. Oh I thought there may have been a Christmas proposal (on bended knee) or perhaps a rushed "Marry Me" at the airport but no, I'm going to have to wait until the next installment!!

  2. Seriously romantic and full of adventure...oh and Christmas markets sound perfect Jane.

  3. ~* Lovely images and story~* I lived in Baumholder Germany for 3 11 year old son was born there! My husband and I really miss celebrating the Christmas season there!~*~* Hugs, Rachel :)

  4. Throw out my novel this is much more exciting...and it's real!What a love story! Love at first sight, the separation, the romantic roaming through Europe! I'm hoping for a steamy reunion! Aren't the Christmas markets amazing. We had a white christmas in Prague and I will never forget the beautiful markets in the evening. Thanks for continuing to share your story!
    X Briohny.

  5. Oh, ladies, you're all too funny! Thanks for your sweet comments. I'm sorry it's a bit of an epic but I'm hoping to wrap it up in the next post. Yes, Rachel and Briohny, they are so delightful. Christmas at summer time really can't compare. One year, we'll take the pixies over and share Christmas (hopefully a white one) with our friends. J x

  6. Check out those party hard Germans!! I was in Germany in July, just Munich, man it's pretty. I really want to take my family there.
    Love your reunion, you can imagine my airport loving embraces with my soldier, it's even more emotional when they come back by transport ship. Mind you it's pretty weird when you have your children running towards your husband when he still has a rifle slung around him!!
    What a great story you have to tell your children - mine ask about us dating all the time, it's adorable. They see the wedding photo but they want the story behind it. Love Posie

  7. Beautiful post and pics.

    Hi Jane! Stopping by from Real Life Moms.

    Have a nice day!

  8. Oh Jane, beautiful story and so well written. I loved it! I am craving raclette now...

  9. oh Jane your love story is so sweet and it's lovely for you to share it with us! I can only imagine how hard it was after waiting to be together for so long and then being apart. I thought the law barrel part was quite entertaining having been to a few myself, no potentials for me there sadly : )
    Oh you asked about the picture on my blog, sadly I don't have photoshop so instead i put all the pictures in powerpoint and arrange them as I like then take a screen shot of the area I want. I'm sure there must be an easier way, but that's what I do.
    Hope you are staying warm!


  10. Why, thanks, ladies! I was really pleased to put it into words after all these years. I guess it was always one of those 'I-must-do-it-some-day' things and now it's done.

    Oh, Posie, I can't comprehend how you do it, you darling. And so often!

    Hi Veronica - thanks for dropping in to Planet Baby.

    And Emma, yes, I might just get our raclette set out of the shed and introduce it to the pixies - they'll find it fascinating!

    Too funny, Catherine, you barrel girl ☺. Thanks so much for the tip - I'll give it a whirl as it looked so fabulous in that post. Yes, the heaters are on...

    I promise I will wrap this little story up within the next day. I can't leave you all hanging in suspense for much longer! J x

  11. The picture of the library is amazing, the way it was captured! All the pics were GREAT!

    Popping in from MBC (FFF Group)
    Now following you!
    You can find me at:

  12. Hi Jen Thanks for dropping in at Planet Baby. Glad you liked them. Yes, that photo of the library is one of my all time favourites. J x

  13. What a great story Jane! And wonderful photos too.
    I love those crazy coincedences that only happen when you are traveling like meeting those guys you sent to schoo with all those years before.
    Makes me want to hop on a plane and go exploring.

  14. Oh Jane, instalment 2 did not disappoint ;) Loving your story:) How fabulous that you both had such a wonderful and memorable time in Germany!! I nearly cried when you said that you both went your separate ways at the airport! Just about to move on to the next chapter....! ~ Tina xx

  15. Thanks for your lovely comments, ladies! Tell me about it, Kate - my passport has expired since we arrived on PB...One day we will take the pixies over to Germany - can't wait! And Tina, your empathy is very sweet. J x

  16. Wow! What a trip. And another part of the story to wait for. You certainly know how to maintain the suspense!

    Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro.

  17. Thanks, Al. I promise to wrap up this story very soon ☺. J x


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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