We're back! And we are glad of it. Talk about an awful trip! Let's see...
1. There wasn't a hire car waiting on us when we arrived, so we walked with all our bags for quite a bit to get to the Avis office, where we...
2. Discovered the Avis office was closed until the afternoon, so walked back to the airport.
3. Stevie realised bringing his laptop would have been a good idea, as he had no contact numbers for anyone who could sort out the hire car.
4. The next morning we manage to get the hire car booked to be delivered to the hotel while we are racing about getting eye contact lens checks and I have to go to the doctor to try and sort out my soon to expire driving license.
5. We return to the hotel and pick up the keys for the car in order to race to our first viewing. We discover they haven't put any child seats in the car. Argh!
6. Race round to a friends to borrow a too small car seat for Hamish so we can race round to Halfords to buy two booster seats.
7. First two viewings go well, except both kids are tired and decide they have seen enough houses. I am so tired that for some reason (presumably because the houses are unfurnished) think the electricity won't be on and view the rooms in the dark... Until the agent questions my odd behaviour.
8. Day 2 of house viewings. At least half of the viewings are cancelled either because they have already been snapped up or the owner has changed his mind about renting. We turn up anyway because having lost my phone on the u-bahn a week previously, all the cancellation messages are left on our answering machine... in Berlin.
9. We give up looking at houses and decide just to take house number 2. Then we find out that we don't have the right paperwork to enable us to rent a house in the UK. RR have taken care of the utility bills so our names aren't on them; we get our bank statements from a machine in the bank, so our address isn't on them. It looks very much like we can't get past the money laundering checks and might have to just go back to Berlin.
10. Until we remember that both our names are on our mortgage statement and so we race to Santander where you can't get in-branch help and must use a special phone to speak to someone in a call centre, who says they will fax what we need immediately to the branch. 2 hours later... eventually the fax arrives. We race back to the agents to try and secure the house.
11. The agent is pleased but says that they might have a problem getting references for us as our landlord is a German speaker living in Asia. Email! Google Translate! How hard does this have to be?
12. Day 3. S has to go to a meeting at work first thing in the morning. I make him late as I (because of the driving license thing) have to go and get blood taken at the hospital. We then have to race back to the hotel for breakfast and to pack up and check out before S gets back. S says "at least we can relax today". None of us are at all relaxed. We visit the kids new school which is in the middle of nowhere and not accessible by public transport which makes me very nervous about the possibility of my driving license renewal being rejected. Confirmation of the school hours 8:45 to 3:15 make the idea of S dropping and picking up the kids and holding down a full time job seem like a total nightmare and my stress levels about my driving license ramp up to such a level my head aches. S loves the school and feels more relaxed. I am quietly very not relaxed to the point of feeling sick.
13. We stop in a different town to buy stuff to make sandwiches in the car. S moans that what I have chosen will be very dry, so we also select an Italian dressing. S says maybe we should wait until we stop the car. We stop the car and the dressing has emulsified. S gets a little out for my lunch using his finger, but gives the bottle a good slap on the end for his. S unblocks the bottle.... All over the drivers seat of the hire car... Less than 1 hour before we have to hand it back for inspection.
14. The car stinks of vinegar and mustard and S decides to stop at a petrol station on the way to the airport to buy a Magic Tree to mask the smell with something more disgustingly strong. He emerges empty handed as he thinks £2.20 is not worth it! I ask him to weigh up £2.20 against the potential fine from Avis. He seems unable to decide which will be more, so I suggest I try spraying the seat with my deodorant. I spray and spray until I think I have achieved success. As I walk round to the boot of the car I notice it appears there is a cloud in the car. A very smelly cloud. We drive to the airport with the windows down, not feeling very relaxed at all.
We are glad to be back in Berlin.