Thursday, 19 May 2011

Me & my crappy, heritage windows

Every room looks like this right now. The kids have been on a tired, destructive, mess-making, drawer-emptying rampage, and I am feeling angry!

And yes, that was Hamish you saw in the photo above lying sleeping in amongst all the mess

And to top it all off, I came back to my laptop to start this big moaning rant and found this. A banana stuck to the power cord. Is it bedtime yet?

Oh you should probably ignore me. I am having a bad few days. There are days when I utterly hate being a foreigner in a foreign land. More specifically, I suppose it's that I hate not being a fluent German speaker. In the past 3 days I have had a few things to deal with where it would really have been nice to be able to speak and understand fully what people are saying.

3 days ago we started having a bit of an argument with our landlord and his letting agent. This is the letting agent who started shouting at me because I wouldn't change my Disneyland trip to stay in for the painters because apparently these painters were only available on one day (in the whole year). I know, I know, it was terribly unreasonable of me, wasn't it? I am not sure I believed her reasoning, and if that was the case I would probably just get a different painter.

Since we returned and contacted the owner, he has been in touch and tried to imply that I am breaking the law, by impeding access to the painters (because I was on holiday, a holiday that I had previously told them I was going on so as to avoid these dates for our other plumbing problem). I am, according to Stevie, taking it all too personally, as I have decided I hate our landlord. He may be a diplomat, but he has all the moral conscience of, oh I don't know, a slug. I can't help but be annoyed by the fact that whatever goes wrong in this apartment he does whatever he can to blame me for it. Stevie of course is right: he says it just boils down to money. This is meant to be a relatively high-end apartment but the reality is that everything has either been done on the cheap or just not done at all.

We have opposing views on the windows that are either falling apart piece by piece, draughty, letting in water, dripping with condensation, freezing up on the inside over winter, allowing mould to grow on the walls surrounding the frames: he describes them as "heritage", I call them "crap". Anyway, it is apparently my neglect that has caused this to happen. According to the landlord, all Germans open their windows 5 times a day for 15 minutes to allow air to circulate. We had this discussion in December when it was -19c outside. I said it wasn't very practical with small children around who are inclined to want to throw themselves out the windows. I also find it hard to believe that this really needs to be done all the time. I have seen it of course, you always see apartments with open windows here no matter what the temperature is, but I am struggling to believe that we have far more advanced window technology in the UK that we don't have to do this.

And before you argue that in the UK most of us have double glazing and not 'heritage' windows (though, allow me to bitch, I know these windows have only been here since 1992 when the building was re-furbished), I even have mould growing on the walls surrounding one of the double glazed windows (though not both double glazed windows in that room). I was told that was my fault because I was drying a kids t-shirt on the radiator underneath and producing too much moisture. So my fault. But he didn't have an answer when I pointed out that if the moisture from a drying t-shirt was such a problem then why was it deemed reasonable (and not a problem) to have a shower-room in this bedroom and also the washing machine plumbing in this bedroom too. I guess the t-shirt just tipped the delicate balance.

Then we discovered that Orla is being bullied at Kita, and yesterday I went in to sort it out. As usual the Kita staff started off by telling me that I was wrong, but I stood firm, and told them that no, I was not wrong, and outlined what had been happening. Basically Orla has her best friend, Alicia, and there are two other girls who have started calling Orla names. For the past 2 weeks they have been telling her that she's not 4, she's only 1, and that she's small and therefore just a baby, and that sort of thing. It's been getting Orla down. But then they started telling her she had to stay away from Alicia because she was 'just a baby' and they have stopped her from playing with her. I asked her if there was anyone else she could play with, but because of these stupid mixed age group classes they have here, there's not. The girls only want to play with the girls, and the older girls don't want to play with the younger girls and so Orla is stuck with only having these 3 girls to play with. Let's just say, I found it really hard to describe all of this to her teacher in German, and then to argue that it was actually happening.

Today my Slovakian washing machine which I was trusting to at least get me through the next 2 years, came up with an error code and flashing lights. I tried phoning the UK helpline, then the UK head office then emailing Finland, then emailing Denmark, and I have got nowhere. So it seems I am going to have to bite the bullet and phone the German number and try and get this sorted. I can't begin to tell you how much I avoid making phone calls in German. I hate it. Well, actually I think the route I went on to get some help above tells you a little of what I am prepared to do in order to avoid German phone calls.

Ugh. I think I'd like to just go to my bed now. Even that banana stuck to my laptop is depressing me. Go on, tell me to cheer up and get on with it.


  1. OH NO! You poor dear. Your landlord sounds horribly unreasonable. But after years of renting, I'm sort of convinced it usually comes with the territory.

    Opening your windows for one hour and fifteen minutes a day is mentally insane. Whoever heard of such a wacky rule? How convenient to blame YOU for the mold. Sad.

    So sorry this is happening to you. Snack on that little morsel of banana and do the best you can!! Hugs from Ochsenfurt, tj

  2. I had some chocolate digestives and a big cup of tea and felt much better, thanks. But have you not been told of this window thing? He's busy telling me that it's a 'German convention' and I need to follow it. I wonder if any of the other expats (esp those with German partners could enlighten me more on this)

  3. Yeah Fiona, cheer up and get on with it! Or alternatively, accept that sometimes we just have rubbish stuff happen and it all gets too much and chocolate digestives and a cup of tea (or large gin and tonic) are definitely deserved... Hope it all feels a bit better this morning.


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