Saturday, 19 June 2010

Cleaning the Berlin Wall...

So where were we?

So the furniture went- the zealous 3 man team were in and out in a couple of hours. They turned up, said "show us round, and tell us what's not to go, and we'll get on with it". So I took the kids away and they had everything packed before lunch. That's including the central heating control box thing, which I need to post back to our new tenant as soon as I get it (I do hope you are having nice weather, and he doesn't actually need to turn the heating on. I am completely unaware of anything that's happening in the UK, weather included, unless it appears on BBC World News- so as far as I'm concerned the only thing to happen in the UK is the French President coming over to visit the BBC for the Charles DeGualle 70th anniversary of his broadcasts while exiled there during the war. Newspapers must be a bit thin since we left then if that's the big story...).

So they packed that and quite possibly some of my recycling. Ah, how relaxed was I? I hadn't even bothered to put the recycling out and we were due to move! I know that they packed the bin, and I am not even 100% sure that it had been emptied. Ok, maybe it's just another tiny sign of my total laziness, I guess we can never know for sure...especially if we stop thinking about it right now.

So the only thing the packers left was a ton of fluff and dust that had been lurking under wardrobes and things, so after a mammoth cleaning session, we left after our 2 days in the hotel and arrived in Berlin. Now according to the quite substantial notes that Rolls-Royce give you, you are meant to arrive and feel like you are on holiday and then after a month or two, this feeling wears off, and you start thinking things like how slow the beauracracy is (compared with home), how nothing is quite as good as home, etc etc. They call it 'hitting the wall'. I hit it on about day 2.

Our temporary accommodation is pretty grim. It's not terrible by any means, it's just souless and of course there's nothing personal. So it's not even like being in a holiday cottage where you have books and ornaments and things. It's just bare. I hate being in it, and so do the kids. Anyway, I also arrived in Germany with some kind of sick bug. I had thought I'd got food poisoning the day before we left from a dodgy pizza in Frankie & Benny's (I must have been terribly excited about the move, because I can't think of any other reason I would choose Hoi Sin Chicken Pizza). Alas, I continued to feel dreadful for most of the first week. On top of that I managed to lose my blood pressure tablets somewhere along the line and that became a wee bit of a nightmare.

So I hit the wall. I pretty much hated it. I was stressed out because it turned out our Healthcare hadn't been organised and then I had loads of phone calls with people trying to organise doctors and all sorts of stuff. It all sounded promising, especially when 'International SOS' got involved, I don't know, they just sound like they'll do things in a hurry, don't they? Well, they don't. They like to take their time, let things back up in their Frankfurt office and call you 6 or 7 times to ask if you are having a heart attack right now, or would you be ok to pick up a prescription from the chemist you can see from your apartment window. But not yet. Maybe in a day or two. But it all got sorted, and I never had a blood pressure monitor with me, so at least I didn't know whether I was about to have a heart attack.

Mind you, the kids seemed determined to test it out. Second day in the flat and in an attempt to be more relaxed (for my blood pressure) I decided not to be checking on the kids every couple of minutes as I tend to do especially if they are being quiet, and just let them get on with it. So, I walked into this little room that's off the second bedroom (it's like a large wardrobe but has a window) and this was when I discovered that they had coloured in one whole wall with their new crayons. I went mental. They have never done this sort of thing before, so why do they start when we are in rented accommodation with not a cleaning product to our name?

I finally finished cleaning it with a successful combination of Cif and wipes this morning. Hours it has taken me. I didn't imagine I'd be scrubbing walls in my first week here.

So let's get on to the good stuff. The 'relocation service provider' is great. I had a great day last week that was like being on 'Location, location..'. We got picked up by our 'helper' Heidi, and taken to 6 or so apartments where we would get shown round with them and the agent and Heidi would do all the translating and we would say what we liked and what we didn't like and then they would tailor the rest of the properties we saw to meet our needs. It was brilliant fun. I could look at houses every day of the week. It was actually a bit more like Location, location with a bit of Escape to the Country thrown in. It seems as though people in Berlin live in probably far smaller spaces than we do in the UK, and certainly, I think the agents thought it was a bit odd that we were looking for seperate bedrooms for the kids. They also seemed to think it was odd that they were showing us what they considered pretty amazing apartments, and we were sometimes just not fussed about them. So I felt a bit like one of those folk on Escape to the Country who get taken into a kitchen the size of a field and they just casually winge, "It's just not quite big enough for the two of us".

But we found somewhere. Well, we actually found 2 places that we loved, but one isn't available until August, so that ruled it out as I can't bare to stay where we are until then. So we are meant to move in on Tuesday. The moving team arrive at 8am and no doubt will be done by 9:30. I can't wait!!!

Those of you who I have been in touch with since the move will have heard my plaintive cries about there being no Robinson's Apple and Blackcurrant here - or 'purple' as the kids call it. Well, I can reassure you that the crisis is over! We took a wee trip to Kreuzburg this morning to a shop called Broken English. The owner was stood outside smoking when we turned up and laughed as Stevie squealed "Look at the window display!" to which the kids started chorusing "Purple! Purple!". So happy were we that we paid €7.50 for 3 small bottles to tide us over till my friends can start shipping it over in bulk. I never knew it would be so missed. I had also thought that things would have moved on quite substantially in the supermarkets from when I was in Munich 30 years ago. We came here on holiday 2 years in a row and I remember quite clearly the lack of what I assumed were international brands and there only being Paprika crisps. But here we are, and it's the same. How has Kerry Irish Butter managed to break through into this impenetratable marketplace, and why would you not be sick to death of paprika crisps after 30 years?? Seriously, would a little salt and vinegar not enhance life?

(Actually, I found some and they were described as 'Engish Style' and they were quite good, so I will return to them in times of desperate need, and won't be partaking of Broken English's 12 pack of Walkers for €10.50- can you believe that price?).

Right well, I could write loads but it's time to go. Next time I'll tell you about our trip to the zoo. It's amazing. There are bits about Berlin that make you feel like it would be like being in Britain before they thought about Health and Safety. Wait till you see my photos, you'll think I have a great zoom lens on my camera, ha, ha!


  1. Hi Fiona and gang..loving your blog! Soo glad you located the robinsons purple!! All sounds very exciting, glad your enjoying your adventure!!! I'll log on next week and see how your move has gone. Anita x

  2. Hi, hope your next move goes well. I can relate to only having BBC news as a source of information, I was surprised how rubbish it is! We now have BBC entertainment and apart from the life-saving Cbeebies it only seems to show Eastenders, Doctors and the Weakest Link, over..and over again!

  3. Pleased tp har that you've all arrived safely. I look forward to hearing the rest of your stories. Sue x

  4. Oh Emma, don't say that's it??? We've been told that we'll get a basic satellite package which will include some BBC programmes...oh well, at least there'll be CBeebies. There seems very few children's programmes here. I will just shut up and be grateful. Mind you, I quite like being in the dark about all the bad things happening in the world.

    Anita and Smiffy, great to hear from you! Keep in touch xx

  5. I can't believe they coloured in that wall! Like you needed the extra stress. Good to see you're moving to a better place though.

  6. Kaufland and the newer Kaisers all have American salted chips (without that hideous paprika flavor). I also often see the vinegar chips you Brits like. BE was a find for toffees, but when I treid the cheddar there, I wasn't happy.


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