Category Archives: Housework

Living on my own

Me: Of course, my dream is to live by myself eventually.

Kayla: Oh, my Aussie friend is looking for someone to take over her flat for a couple of months. Maybe you two should meet? 

Me: Hell yeah. 

And so, through my South African friend that I used to work with in Dublin who now also lives in Berlin, I got to meet Ailsa, the Aussie artist who’s going on an artists residency in the States for a couple of months. She’d had some problems with Airbnb people before, so she wanted to leave her flat in safe hands. (Ahem.) Enter me. Naturally, she loved me at first sight and we both agreed that I should have her apartment.

Of course, Hildeberta and Hildegard were heart-broken when I told them I’d be moving out. Who would leave long dark hairs all over the apartment when I was gone? But, on the plus side, they now get to clean every second week instead of every third week so I guess there’s that. Naturally, I will miss them a lot, but we’ll still see each other and I’ll have them over to my flat for a (hopefully not poisonous) dinner soon.

I moved into my new pad in Neukölln on Tuesday with the help of Fritz, who I hoped would be more alert behind the wheel than he is on trains. He came to my place at 10am (on the dot) and by 10.40, we had everything moved into my new flat. German-Irish efficiency. (Yes, it is a real thing…)

I fully intend to.
I fully intend to.

Words can’t describe how happy I am to be finally living on my own in Berlin – even if it is just for a short time. Of course, it’s more expensive than my old place, but I’ve decided to start living my life the way I want it to be (rather than how it actually is) and hope that everything else falls into place. Madness? Perhaps, but it feels wunderbar. And I get to play “If I were an egg, where would I be?” in a whole new LIDL.

I’ve already charmed the Lederhosen off the auld lads who are permanently installed outside the bar next door, and I’m planning on joining them several times a week – to practise my German. I’ve also met the little old Turkish lady who’s like the gatekeeper to the building and a good woman to have on side. She also doesn’t speak a word of English so our first meeting was quite entertaining.

Zeynep: Are you from Australia too?

Me: No, I’m from Ireland. 

Zeynep: (brief pause) JOHNNY LOGAN!!!

Me: Erm, yeah… 

(Ah, the good old days, when Ireland got more than “nul points” in the Eurovision.)

My first act upon moving in was to accidentally melt cheese all over the kitchen floor thanks to my new sandwich toaster. I’d gone to get dressed and put on my make-up after turning it on, and came back to find molten hot cheese covering the nice wooden floor and some wiring. I’d forgotten how fast those things toast, clearly.

Don't worry, Ailsa, it came off easily...
Don’t worry, Ailsa, it came off easily…

I’ve also had to permanently close the door to the storage room, as I kept walking in there thinking it was the kitchen or the bathroom. But, thankfully, I’m less confused now, and becoming more successful at living. Last night, I had Nigel over for dinner and managed not to kill either of us. I cooked a sausage casserole that I was hoping would feed me for the week, but Nige polished off three-quarters of it in one sitting. Still, at least he didn’t wildpinkel on the balcony.

View from my awesome balcony
View from my awesome balcony

This morning, feeling rather continental, I decided to have my Schokobrötchen and tea on said balcony while sunning myself in my underwear. This afforded me the treat of seeing my Turkish neighbour doing his morning stretching routine on his balcony. Or at least he was doing it until he spotted the half-naked Irish woman eyeing him.

What I'll be doing every morning from now until July.
What I’ll be doing every morning from now until July.

On the whole, after only two days, I’m enjoying living here so much that I think I might have the locks changed while Ailsa is in the States and not open the door when she comes back. Although, I’m not sure how German law enforcement would feel about that.

OK, I know exactly how they'd feel.
OK, I know exactly how they’d feel.

So, for anyone who hasn’t been keeping track of my journey in Berlin, this is how it looks so far…

North, south, east, west...
North, south, east, west…

Where to next? Who knows, but I should probably start looking tomorrow…

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There is something worse than naked neighbours

The last thing on earth I wanted to see on Tuesday morning was an angry Hildeberta with a pen and paper in her hands. Groan. Was the dreaded cleaning rota finally going to materialise? I ventured a little closer with a cheery “Good morning!”, and peered at what she was writing. “Lieber Nachbar…” Phew, it seemed I was off the hook.

Me: What’s happening? 

Hildeberta: DID YOU HEAR ME LAST NIGHT? 

Me: (backing slowly away) Ummmm… 

It emerged that, in a fit of rage, she’d stomped upstairs in her pajamas to deal with our insanely noisy neighbours. I had actually heard our front door opening at around 1am but as I was nice and warm in my bed, I just thought, “Sod it. Let the bloody burglars come to me. I’m not moving.” I nodded off again a few minutes later.

Meanwhile, Hildeberta had been banging away on the neighbours’ door, determined to have it out with them. She said she could hear them talking in rather coarse German, tiptoeing around for a bit, and then all was quiet. So she came back downstairs and went to bed again. Having got no satisfaction (duh nuh nuh) the night before, she was now writing a note to them in VERY SHOUTY LETTERS.

The truth is, this has been going on for months now but, as Germans are oh so polite, we didn’t do anything about it. I had previously offered to be the short, silent, crazy-eyed sidekick to Hildeberta’s dignified lead – think Joe Pesci and Robert de Niro in Casino – but my flatmates had turned me down.

You see, there are laws against this sort of thing in Germany. Between 10pm and 6am, you’re not supposed to do anything that could disturb your neighbours in any way. This includes, but is not limited to, hoovering, turning on your washing machine, blaring your TV, and revving your car engine. I have even heard of the police being called on a crying baby. And while Berlin is generally rather lax with this sort of stuff, our neighbours are a pretty extreme case.

I put forward several theories as to what could be going on up there, but as my macabre imagination freaked out Hildeberta and Hildegard, I’ve toned it down to what is probably the most likely one. So here it is – Gebhard’s Guide to Driving your Neighbours Crazy:

1. Look at your watch and realise that it’s around midnight.

2. Put on your hobnail boots.

3. Proceed to line dance for 30 – 40 minutes.

4. When you’re good and warmed up, move every piece of furniture in your flat to a new position.

5. Jump off every piece of furniture while still wearing your hobnail boots.

6. Repeat.

Luckily for Gebhard, Hildeberta and Hildegard are extremely well-mannered individuals with the patience of saints. I, on the other hand, am not. This has led to me jumping up and down, banging on the ceiling with a sweeping brush in my hand while roaring obscenities at night, and “treating” Gebhard to my version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” at the top of my voice first thing in the morning. However, it seems that none of this has had any effect whatsoever.

Hildeberta dropped the note up on Tuesday morning. As I sit here writing this, 2 Unlimited are blaring from on high, and Gebhard is having what sounds like multiple seizures (in hobnail boots) directly above my head. (Although, if I were forced to listen to 2 Unlimited at that volume, I’d probably have a seizure too.)

So it seems he’s not just an inconsiderate moron, he’s an inconsiderate moron with embarrassingly poor taste in music. It’s now around 9.30. At 10.01, I’m going up there. Now, where’s my pen…