On 1st September
relocated to Germany when the company I worked for offered me a
job in the head office near to Munich. I'll never forget that
day as I entered the department manager's office and greeted his
two assistants with a cheery "Hi, I'm here".
and bureaucracy are renowned and back in 1998 I not only needed
to register as being resident, but even as an EU citizen I
needed an official work permit. Sabine Müller was one of those
two assistants and was a qualified translator speaking English
to native level (with an Irish accent!) so she was the obvious
choice to help me navigate the authorities and help me settle
into this new environment.
Sabine and I soon
became very close and were hardly separated for the next 17
and friend played traditional Irish music in a local group and
every Saturday night held an Irish music session in an Irish bar
in Munich so this was an obvious weekend meeting point for
Sabine and me. I'll also never forget my joy at the selection of
whiskies available in this bar so I selected a suitable dram for
myself but when I asked Sabine what she'd like to drink she
declined a whisky as "she didn't like whisky". Apparently a
typical teenage encounter with a cheap blend had put her off for
She did, however,
love Scotland and especially Ireland so I asked what she liked
so much about them and she replied that the sights, smells and
lure of The Atlantic Ocean was paramount to her so I disappeared
to the bar only to return with what I thought was a suitable
dram for her.
Just one sniff and
a certain joy spread across her face as she was immediately
transported back to the Atlantic coast and memories of Scotland.
"I love this, but it doesn't taste anything like whisky" she
exclaimed, asking "What is it?"
My answer; "Laphroaig"
and from that day onwards she loved Laphroaig but still "didn't
Our lives entwined
ever closer, falling in love, moving together and each leap year
I warned her that in England we have a tradition where 29th
February is the one and only day when a woman may ask a man for
his hand in marriage, so she'd better be careful in case anyone
Then on 29th
February 2008 she came to me and asked the inevitable question
"Will you marry me?". After due consideration which took all of
a few seconds I answered with a very enthusiastic "Yes!"
We were married on 29th December 2008
Over the last 17
years we enjoyed so many happy times together, exploring many
places and enjoying our mutual hobby of photography, especially
landscape and nature with Sabine crawling around mountain
pastures in search of plants and insects ... so many memories
Life with Sabine
wasn't without a few disasters; she suffered from the rare "brittle
bone disease" or what the Germans call "Glass Bones" and any
small trip or fall that you or I would shrug off was almost
always a broken bone for her or even a stay in hospital. Another
moment I'll never forget was when I called into our manager's
office for something and found Sabine sitting at his meeting
desk sellotaping two toes together. It was summer and she was
walking around the office barefoot and had stubbed a toe against
a chair. It was broken but instead of running off to the doctor
she just taped them together and carried on working. That was
In 2013 after many
years since our previous visit we planned a holiday on Islay. On
our second day we visited her favourite distillery where she was
a "Friend" and wished to collect her rent for her square foot of
Islay. The distillery personnel were a little stumped when they
couldn't find her membership details on the computer but they
persevered and then discovered she was a "friend" from before
the computer days and eventually found her in one of the
original volumes shelved in the visitor centre. Suddenly she was
a celebrity as they explained they don't often get "Friends"
turning up who are in those volumes. She enjoyed an hour or two
of pampering and drams in the distillery.
visiting Laphroaig I wanted to get a couple of photos of the
neighbouring Lagavulin distillery so drove to their car park
where I parked and asked Sabine to stay with the car whilst I
was just a few minutes. She didn't, she decided to explore a
little and tried to walk around the uneven grassy area outside
the distillery where she took a nasty fall. The small hospital
on Islay couldn't cope with this so she was air-lifted to
Glasgow where she spent a few weeks having a major hip rebuild
before being flown back to a local hospital here.
In 2014 she was fit
to travel again so we returned to Islay to enjoy the holiday we
didn't really have the previous year.
is 16th February so this year I promised her a weekend away as
she was feeling so much better after the long and painful months
of the last couple of years. Having brittle bones isn't easy,
she was permanently in so much pain from her 150+ fractures that
she needed some extremely strong pain medication just to get
through each day, but feeling better and more active we spent a
long weekend in a nice hotel at Starnbergersee and started to
plan more trips for the coming year, what we'd see, photograph
and experience once again ....... Sadly this isn't to be. Just
four days after returning home from our wonderful weekend I left
for work with Sabine safely sleeping (and gently snoring as
usual) only to return home to find she'd died whilst I'd been
out of the house.
My sweetheart, I once told you I loved you more with the passing
of each day and this will remain true for the rest of my life.
I'll, sorry we'll miss you dearestest Sabine
Rest In Peace, 16.2.1958 - 26.2.2016