Tag Archives: home office

A trip to Herring Village: Part one

You might assume, as I did, that not many people would be crazy enough to want to travel to an island in the Baltic Sea at the start of November. You’d think I’d have learned over the last seven years never to underestimate Germans in Jack Wolfskin. And so it was that I found myself on a train to Heringsdorf on the island of Usedom, curled up on the floor outside a toilet. The Germans, as with the sun loungers in Mallorca, had reserved every seat on the train.

Happy travels.

An old lady who passed by (probably on the way to her comfortable, reserved seat) asked me if I wasn’t afraid. I said no, that in an emergency, it was actually the best spot to be in. Shortly afterwards, the ticket inspector wished me a pleasant journey; I wasn’t sure if he was being sarcastic or not. Maybe it’s just an automatic phrase he trots out, regardless of whether you’re in first class sipping a flute of Sekt or stiff as a post, leaning on your backpack, praying your water bottle doesn’t burst all over your laptop. I passed the time by googling the places we stopped at that I couldn’t see out the window. Your travel writer is pleased to tell you that Eberswalde looks very nice on the internet.

Guess where…

By the time we were approaching Züssow, me arse was like a grape, as my dad used to say.

(No, I don’t know either.)

I was very much looking forward to a cup of tea and a slice of cake as I had almost an hour to kill before catching the next train. Alas, German efficiency kicks in when you least want or need it. The train driver announced that the 13:08 train (mine) was now leaving at 12:08. We would be arriving on time at 12:12 but the train would wait for us on the opposite platform.

If you ever want to see sensible footwear moving at the speed of light, this is the way to do it.

Just over an hour later, I got my stuff together and moved towards the door. The conductor asked me if I was in town for the “Kur” (a course of convalescent treatments). After a second or two of being impressed with myself for knowing what the Kur is and that this region is pretty famous for it, I was a bit offended that he thought I looked like I needed a Kur. What did he think was wrong with me? Although I guess my arse could have done with a nice massage…

And so it came to pass that I arrived in Heringsdorf an hour early. I had told the manager of the apartment I’d rented that I’d be there at three so my cunning plan was to finally get that cup of tea and cake and then stroll on over at my leisure. Unfortunately, it seemed that German efficiency had ended for the day. The first likely place didn’t open until five. The next café I passed was now a real estate agency, which was also closed. The last chance café had closed at 10:30, 10:00 on Sundays seemingly. I mean, who, in their right minds, is up, showered and ready to buy their Brötchen before ten o’clock on a Sunday!? Germans, that’s who.

I called the guy to tell him I’d be early and waited on the windowsill with my book. The weather at least was glorious, one of those perfect late autumn days. He showed up around twenty minutes later, a nice friendly man, who scored points by not asking me if I was there for the Kur. We sorted out the paperwork – there’s a special tax you have to pay if you stay in one of these spa towns – he gave me a quick tour and then left me to my own devices.

Finally, TEA! Of course, like a good German, I’d brought some tea bags along with me. Always prepared. There was just one problem – I couldn’t reach the socket to plug in the kettle. I did have six chopping boards but that’s not really much use when you just want to boil water.

Short people problems strike again

After some jumping, grunting, sweating and swearing, I gave up and moved the kettle to the bedside table. Finally, with cup in hand, I did a quick recce of the place to see how my “home-away-from-home office” could work. It couldn’t. Sockets beside the bed, too far away. Socket behind the TV, even a contortionist couldn’t plug anything in there. Socket over by the kitchen… if I swapped the coat stand and the table and chairs, and didn’t mind being wedged in a corner, that could work. I gave myself some time to consider the set-up and went for a contemplative wee.

It was only afterwards that I realised there were no towels in the bathroom. Huh. Maybe they were on the bed and I just hadn’t noticed. Nope, not there either. I rooted through every drawer and cupboard in the place. No towels. Scheiße. I didn’t really want to bother the guy again but this seemed quite important. I sent him a message and sat wondering if I could make a scarf / tablecloth combo work…

Maybe, just maybe…

He replied pretty quickly to tell me that no, there were no towels but that he had an emergency set he could drop off in a couple of hours. Immediate problems sort of sorted, I did what any sane person does when they come to the Baltic Sea – headed to the beach.

Bliss!

There’s something about being on the Baltic coast that really brings out the best in Germans. Everybody was in a great mood, walking around with their nordic walking sticks, metal detectors, dogs, kids, shovels… German guffaws filled the air and I felt that all was right with the world again. I located the nearest café, found a table in the sun and ordered.

It was as good as it looks. The guy who made it wasn’t half bad either.

Apart from being attacked by psychotic sparrows, this was the best I’d felt in ages. I ordered a second cup of tea and sat back to enjoy the people watching while pretending to read.

On my way home, I stopped off at the supermarket to pick up a few essentials. Then genius struck.

It wasn’t exactly German engineering standards, but good enough. I’d just have to remember to unplug it before I started drinking. Aside from the practical aspect of actually being able to use my laptop, it could also double as exercise every time I had to hop over it to cross the flat. And when the guy showed up again with the towels, I got him to plug in the kettle for me. He didn’t even laugh at me (that much).

I have no idea how many words that is – how rubbish is the new version of WP!? – but it seems like quite a lot so I’ll finish part one there. (Oh, wait, I just found the info icon… still crap though.) If I haven’t bored you to tears already, stay tuned for part two. There will be men.

Moving in with a German

Earlier this year, Manfredas asked me to move in with him. This was actually a brave move on his part as I’d previously told him that I’d set fire to my kitchen while making a ham and cheese toastie. Twice.

Still, from my point of view, it was a great idea for a number of reasons:

  1. Germans have better insurance than I do – i.e. they have insurance.
  2. I’d accidentally flashed my boobs at my elderly neighbour while I was getting dressed and he was having a smoke on his balcony. He’d been very unfriendly to begin with, but it turned out that all it took was an impromptu peep show to lead to daily invitations to his apartment for a drink. I politely (then not so politely) declined.
  3. I’d managed to clog my shower drain with hair beyond what my questionable abilities as a plumber could cope with. Loath to go and tell the Hausmeister and watch him pull a yeti out of there, I tried (and failed) to use my own methods.

Not to be confused.

I decided to leave my slightly blackened oven, randy neighbour and hirsute shower drain behind and accept Manfredas’ offer. (Sometimes I can be just as romantic as the Germans.)

Manfredas lent me some boxes from when he’d last moved and I assured him I would be packed up and ready to go that weekend. Unfortunately, it seemed that my box-putting-together skills were about as developed as my cooking and plumbing skills. Never fear – after about half an hour of arsing around on youtube, I found what I was looking for, put my first box together (with a lot of pause/play/swearing) and it was plain sailing from there.

Utilising a woman’s touch I didn’t know I possessed, I adorned Manfredas’ (sorry, OUR) flat with cardboard boxes, clothes and shoes, cosmetics, toiletries, and four wineglasses and a packet of Bisto – the only things worth taking from my old kitchen.

Me: (upon closer inspection of my new kitchen) I’m afraid I have to move out.

Manfredas: You just moved in! What’s wrong? 

Me: I can’t reach the wineglasses. This could be a deal-breaker.

German kitchens are not made for Irish people.

Luckily Manfredas – being the resourceful sort that he is – quickly remedied the situation and disaster was averted.

The Linda shelf!

While I could cope with living out of a suitcase for a week or so, I kind of needed to hit the ground running on the work front so the first priority was a desk, chair and shelving unit for my brand new home office. Yes, home office. I am now fancy.

An hour or so in Sconto and I was the proud owner of all of the above. In flat-pack form.

Urgh.

While Manfredas was happy enough to let me bash a dowel (I just had to ask him what the word is for “the little wooden things that you hammer into other things to make furniture stick together”) every now and then, it was decided that my unique skill-set would probably be better put to use in keeping the music going and the wine flowing.

Manfredas: Hmm, I don’t think the tools given are good enough for this bit. I need a drill. (Produces a rather nice Black & Decker drill set.)

Me: Bah haha! You own drills! 

Manfredas: Well, of course I own drills. How else do you think things get on walls? 

Me: Oh yes. Right. That makes sense.

Sometimes I forget that I’m a grown-up dating a grown-up.

Anyway, in a few short hours – for me, at any rate – the office was complete.

Don’t worry – the screwdriver is just for show.

Once I had everything in place, it was time for the next phase – showing me how to use the TV, the heating, the dishwasher, the washing machine and various other gadgets that Germans love. Amazingly, Manfredas has undertaken to do most of the cooking so a cooker tutorial didn’t really come into play.

This probably explains why the flat is still standing and we’re rubbing along nicely together. I guess he should probably put the ham and cheese on the top shelf of the fridge though…