Friday, 2 November 2012

Diary of a move: I Cif'ed a girl and I liked it.

November already? "Brr... fizzle......pop!" That'll be the sound of me suddenly bursting into a frenzy of activity then. The move is now just 4 weeks away, and while I had thought that I might get away with swanning around in the last few weeks sight-seeing, cake-eating, photo-graphing, blah-de-blahing, and generally having a jolly good time, well, it seems I am deluded.

Did I forget everything that needed to be done before we moved here? Um, no. I think the last time I didn't really need to do very much. And this time round I was thinking it would be the same. Sell stuff, book flights, wait on removal men turning up. But I was forgetting that things are quite different when you don't own the house you are leaving. I was lucky in our old house because the house had been completely revamped just as we moved in, and condition-wise it was pretty excellent. And although I had to clean the place from top to bottom after the furniture left revealing my secret dusty-fluff shame, the kids were still at 'Practitioner' level in filth-making, and not at 'Expert'. 'Expert' level has only been achieved here.

So where to start?

Well, I am not sure whether there is such a thing as 'normal wear and tear' here. The rule seems to be in Germany that you should return the apartment to pristine perfection when you leave. After 2.5 years, well, let's say that it looks 'lived in'. Those of you who have been with me for the long haul may recall that the plane had barely landed on the runway before the kids embarked on a spate of destruction mostly aimed at walls and doorstops. As memory serves we had been in the temporary accommodation a day before I discovered that they had coloured in most of the walls in one of the rooms with all their Crayola crayons.

Orla has revived this particular pet hate of mine from time to time; once when she learned how to write her name (yet couldn't work out how I knew it was her!), and during particularly 'creative' phases when she's been unable to stop her little crayon holding hands from reaching toward the great white canvas of our walls. Most of these marks have remained on the walls because the memory of the hours of scrubbing I had to put in at the temporary accommodation was still too raw. (Or, I'm lazy). Other areas have chocolatey finger prints and so on.

Anyway, yesterday evening we had a visit from my most favourite relocation agent, Heidi. And given that it was Halloween she came with a message that chilled me to my very core. "You're going to have to paint the walls."

Even clipart me would have to stand on top of the wardrobe to paint over the hard-to-reach crayon marks near the ceiling.

Can you see the problem? I have never known walls like these. I love the height, the feeling of space, but my god, the prospect of either having to paint this whole apartment, or pay someone else to, is a frightening thought. So last night we cracked open the Cif and the baby wipes, which as you may also recall was the technique I used to amazing effect in the temporary accommodation. It works brilliantly, but it can take a long time. We worked on some of the worst bits last night and I think managed to achieve an excellent job, but it may take a good week or two to just work our way round the whole place cleaning from floor to child level.

In other exciting cleaning news, I purchased a new grout pen and silicon sealant yesterday. I managed to re-do the sealant around the shower and bath while the dinner cooked, and I simply cannot wait to get stuck in with my grout pen later today. Kill. Me. Now.

I'm delaying taking down all the pictures until next week when I have to skillfully fill the holes and make it look like they've never been there because otherwise I think I might burst from excitement.


  1. If only I lived closer I would be right over to wield Cif and grout pens by your side.
    Sadly I don't, but I am with you in spirit......

    The whole moving house thing is a nightmare in Europe, but they do have to make allowances for normal wear and tear. After 2+ years in your accommodation I don't think they can insist the walls are pristine.

    I hope you find some time to swan around and drink coffee before you go.

    1. Why thankyou. I have scrubbed the place and it now only looks like we've lived here for 6 months. Unfortunately for me the agent who will be inspecting the place is the woman who slammed the phone down on me when I refused to fly back from Disneyland to let in some painters, even though she'd known for weeks that we were going to be away. Man, I am so unreasonable. Anyway, we haven't spoken since, so I assume she will show no mercy.

      And tonight I am off to swan around and drink cocktails. Aah!

  2. For the unenlightened- what is Cif? Also, what's a grout pen?

    1. I assumed Cif was a global product from Unilever. It used to be called Jif in the UK. Anyway, it is utterly fantastic for cleaning walls of wax crayon and general grime. Should you ever find yourself feeling that your bathroom is looking a little bit tired then I would highly recommend the purchase of a grout pen, or Fugenmarker as they are known in Germany. It's a 'highly opaque' white pen that you use to colour in the grout between your tiles. Even if you have scrubbed your bathroom religiously, a touch up with a grout pen will just make the place look far fresher. Awesome!

    2. Cif might very well be a global product and I might still be unaware of it. :D

    3. Ha, ha, good point well made. I wish I was unaware of it, but in fact everyone around me will probably be aware of it for the next few days as I really do smell of it...


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