Well, this is it...we're into the last few days of my year in Hamburg, and what a year has been. I don't want to throw out all of those stereotypical, cliche phrases about it being the best year of your life and one of the greatest experiences...but it really has been a great year.
I've travelled to new places, I've seen new things and met new people. I've developed friendships and somehow strengthened relationships with people to be even better friends than we were to start with. I've been to some fantastic gigs and sporting events, I've spent some glorious days relaxing in the sunshine and enjoyed (is that the right word?) one of the longest and coldest winters in recent history.
But it really has been fantastic, and thanks gets given mainly to two groups of people. At the risk of this turning into a terrible awards ceremony style speech...here we go.
I found an absolutely fantastic cricket club in THCC Rot-Gelb, an incredible group of people that I couldn't have imagined meeting. If there's any regret there, it's that I didn't join the club earlier in the year and get to spend even more time with them. Plus, it's not every day when you can say that you're part of a team that has one of the best teams in an entire country. I've developed so much as a player in the last few months...I'm a more confident batsman, and while I'm not going to set the world alight with my batting, I at least have the confidence to know I can play a bit more than a forward defensive. My bowling has improved too. My fielding, while I always gave 100%, wasn't always fantastic. I still give 100%, but now I can say that I'm a better fielding, mainly due to being shown multiple times how to catch a ball properly. As stupid as it sounds, I've got more confidence taking high catches. Cam, Komal, Steve, Magic Moritz, Frank, Mark and everyone else...thank you.
To the 1st XI, best of luck in the national finals, you'll have at least one fan cheering you on from England and eagerly awaiting the result of the final. I'll forever be a Desperado, and if things go as I hope, I'll see you all next year.
Then there are the people at work. My wonderful colleagues at euroShell. What a wonderful, funny, utterly brilliant group of people they are. I've learnt so many new skills and developed so much as an individual. I went from not having a clue what I was doing on my first day to quickly figuring out what needed to be done. I'd like to think I've made a difference of some sort. Even if I haven't, I've made enough of a difference to myself in knowing what I can do...and perhaps what I want to do in the future. More windows and doors have been opened, it's just a case of seeing which way the wind blows. If opportunities arise in the future, I've potentially got more options to choose from and look at for careers and job prospects.
To Marc, Harm, Benjamin and Thomas, good day to you and thank you for everything. If our paths cross again, I look forward to the next meeting.
England, brace yourself. I'm coming back (for now). Germany...it's been fantastic and I'll see you again soon.
I'll leave the final word to The Doctor, who says it all...