post goodbye come down

First I have to say that I really really love to have visitors, and I’d far rather have them than not.  But I do wish I could work out a way to avoid the post goodbye comedown, when life just seems flat and the evening stretches long and and empty in front of me as I return from the airport.   After muchly fun in Berlin with any of my lovelies, it seems not so much fun to go back to doing Berlin on my own.  This I suppose is the downside to having adventures.

Of course, there are things I could be doing.  I could be out on the town, exploring one of the many things that I point out to visitors as on the list: just down the road for example there are venues for climbing and tango, hell there’s even an out of place looking dojo for some kind of martial art were I so inclined.  There’s always the option of calling somebody for a drink, going to see a film or even just curling up in bed with a book.  But they just don’t appeal that much when I’m trying to recover from waving somebody off.

The other possibility would be to get on with some of the things I really should be doing.  I need to look at my lesson for tomorrow so that I turn up with vague idea of what I’m doing. Applying myself to future career research would be good, as would searching for UK housing options.  Maybe I might get a head start on sorting my receipts for the tax man (gosh, that sounds fun), or just get on and book my ski holiday insurance. Actually, I really should do that one.

Maybe I could study German a bit, or plot possible holidays for next year, which are going to be a massive challenge given that skiing is already booked and using most of my pennies but I really want to go to the US to visit Cee.  Plus if I want to travel with LTN there’s also  the question of his severely limited leave allowance, and it’s all fairly academic until I’ve got a job and know how big my travel fund and my own leave allowance will be.  It’s going to need to be the year of very cheap long weekends away I think, which entails some serious long range planning – not my strongest point.

I won’t do any of that tonight, in fact I’ve managed to make a whole lot of the evening disappear just rambling on and editing this post.  And it will pass, for the most part, and I’ll get on with showing you a few photos from this weekend, and eventually some from Mantha’s visit as well since I’m seriously overdue on those.  I won’t be this self-indulgent for long.  Apart from anything else I’ve got more visits to look forward to.

But basically, for now, I’m just feeling blue.  I miss you.

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Best laid plans…

I feel as if nothing is going quite to plan at the moment. And I’d be the first to admit that my plans aren’t always of the very highest quality, but I do try (as Mum would have said, I’m very trying). It’s not that there are any major problems, but I never get done quite what I mean to get done, in the way I mean to do it.  The to-list keeps on growing, no matter how productive I’m being and the things I intend to remember I usually manage to forget.  For example…

Photo-automat plan, whereby all visitors from LTN long-visit onwards must and shall have photo-automat picachurs taken with me, by order.

Photo-automat result:
Picachurs with LTN = 0                   Fail

Picachurs with Bella = 3 sets         Gewinn!

This syndrome also leaves me with no ironing board, still.  I haven’t send out the many birthday cards I should have, or booked a car for Ireland.  Lots of little bits of admin need to be done.  And most importantly, I haven’t had time to write anything interesting on here, my apologies!  In the meantime, I hope the special poses being struck by Bella and I make you smile for a little while….

Musik in the sun

When I finally made it out into the sunshine today I took my customary Sunday wander around Boxy.  There’s almost always music going on but the quality thereof dost vary most hugely.  Today there was quite a crowd gathered around some intriguing sounds so I mosied on over and beheld the very entertaining Tanga Elektra.

At first I was particularly taken with the drummers cap (see right) but as I paid closer attention I also liked the fact that the guitar case was acting as a drum, and the other dude (see end of post) was making seriously funky noises with a violin and a bunch of pedals.  And he could sing too.  I have taken my own videos of them but I don’t have the power to load them here so you shall have youtube goodness.

The first vid is the song wot I heard them do today

The second is a different song but they’re in the exact same place in Boxy, clearly they are regulars and I can hope to see them again.

This wasn’t the the only sunshine music either.  Alex kindly gave me a shout yesterday for an open air.  Apparently it’s another Berlin classic that I didn’t know about to put on the list but managed to tick off as a first without any particular difficulty.  I followed chalk arrows on the pavement to get there and the whole thing was extraordinarily chilled out.  The journey did take me a while though, and when Alex and Felix kindly escorted me back to the U they had to walk their bikes.  Must. Get. Bike.

So what’s an open air?  An unofficially party in some unused space a bit out of the city.  Basically there was a bonfire (Osterfeuer, it’s an Easter tradition), a soundsystem playing house and a bunch of people drinking beer in the sunshine.

As it got dark one light came on and everyone kept dancing.  Good summer stuff, although I did have to take a wild pee which turned out funnier than imagined because I hid myself so well in the bushes in the dark that another girl with the same mission nearly sat on me.  When I realised she couldn’t see me I said a quiet but friendly ‘hallo’ and she nearly jumped out of her skin.  Makes a change for it not to be me squeaking, hey?

And finally, LTN arrives tonight so I’m looking forward to more sunshine fun with him.  Fabelhaft.

Kitchen dancing in someone else’s kitchen

On Wednesday night after work I had a very strong need for a glass of red wine and someone to chat to.  Luckily Severin was in the living room ‘working’ so I made him my accomplice.  In the course of the chat which was mixed of Deutsch and English because I was trying but my brain was broken, he mentioned a potential house party outing on Friday.  Having no plans I was of course interested and said as much before toddling off to chat to LTN before bed and a lovely Thursday lie in.*

However, come Friday evening I was feeling a little bit sleepy and uninspired.  It had a been a long week into which I squeezed lots of work and some evenings in the pub, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for a house party in foreign.  I find it challenging enough doing the talking at parties of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend without adding a language barrier into the mix.  Severin was also dozy but we agreed that when there’s a party on offer two streets away you’ve really no excuse not to go.  And therefore we should, and we would. Besides, apparently there would be actual Austrian aristocrats there.  It wasn’t on my Berlin list to party with Austrian aristocrats but it should have been so I needed to tick it off…

So, we needed a battle plan.  Luckily there was red wine left, and Severin decided to introduce me to the stereo in our living room. Turns out the speakers are amazing, with quality bass.  We had a little techno moment to demonstrate power, and then moved through Nicolas Jaar (apparently DJ wunderkind of the moment) and onto some reggae for more bass appreciation. I was waking up at this point, happily reminded of kitchen parties with Cee, but tempted to continue chilling at ours rather than going on.  And then he played me this and I got the giggles.  It’s genius…I particularly like the ‘Obama!’ interjections and the ‘oy, oy’ moments.  Enjoy!

After a bit Kaspar came home and joined us, then Severin’s friend Bryn and finally his flatmate too.  We had a crew.  After fizz and some warm up dancing we went to rock the joint down the road.

Summary of the party: Many of the people were in bizarre clothes.  I threw a lot of stupid shapes, kitchen dancing and bedroom dancing and gurning for England.  I missed my usual accomplices for dancing-like-a-fool (Cee, Tea and Sam are all outstanding in the silly-faces-n-shapes stakes but the list of names could include all of you lovelies) but Severin was an excellent stand in.   I got twirled a little bit, which was much fun, and I remember demanding a piggy back during a beer run (I didn’t want beer but I fancied the outing).  I spoke Deutsch and French with Eva (Bryn’s French flatmate) and assorted Austrians, and I think I had an almost argument with a gigantic rugby playing German.  About rugby.  In German.  Weird.  Then at somewhere around 3.45 I ran out of dancing juice and ran home to bed.  Job done.

My conclusion – dancing really does put me in a good mood. I was positively prancing around this morning.  Then I got all tired and had to have a lie down in the sunshine!  Lazy Saturdays are alllll good.

*Thursday lie ins will be a thing of the past come May, I’ve just agreed to take on a class at 7.30 in the morning.  Am I mad???

Riding through the city on a bike one day

That’s another Mr Scruff mix for you, once again via the most excellent soundcloud.  We’re celebrating the fact that I’ve chalked up another Berlin first today and taken my first bike ride in the city.  On actual roads!  Ok, we didn’t go very far, but I was immensely excited by the whole thing once I got over my nerves and initial wobbles.  And once I lowered the seat….which meant I could actually get on the thing.  Sadly I don’t have a picture to show you how big it was, so you’ll just have to imagine me trying to jump on and get going.  If I can get a pic another day, I will.

I was led on this great adventure by the fabulous Claire, who not only saved me by lending me her flat at my time of crisis, but has also supplied books to read and advice about where to find the best cupcakes in Berlin and is a great cake baker herself if I can judge by her banana cake.  Our destination: Treptower Park and the Soviet monument that I’d been told about by two people in such quick succession that even such a  sieve brain as myself could hardly fail to remember it.  It was absolutely worth the journey.  It’s massive and beautiful in a stark kind of way, the vast statues loom over you and it’s meticulously clean and well-kept.  There’s a definite grandeur to it, but it absolutely defies your ability to maintain any sense of scale.

You enter between two gigantic red things (which Claire opined might be stylised anvils) in front of which are gigantic soldiers on bent knee.

Then you wander down one side or other past central grass squares with iron wreathes in the middle and white blocks with bas reliefs to either side.  The oracle Claire informs me that on one side the blocks are inscribed in German, on the other in Russian, but with the same message.  You head towards an inconceivably big statue of another soldier type with a truly large sword who’s up on top of lots of steps and a white pedestal.  So far so good, but once you make it up there you peer in a little door and see a rather gorgeous mosaic which clearly commemorates something important, although we can’t work out what. We also can’t work out why it’s hidden inside the pedestal, but we like it anyway.  For some mysterious reason I don’t have any pictures of the big man, big sword and little room, but I do have the view from the top.  Well sort of, it’s not a great picture to be honest, I’ll do better another day.

We stayed up there for quite some time, soaking up the spring sunshine and chatting away about nothing in particular, and I consider it a Wednesday morning very well spent.   On our way back to hers, I mused quietly whether my legs would chastise me later for the unaccustomed activities but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Following Claire on her convenient spare bike was much easier and more fun than I imagined, it was a beautiful day and great to be doing some exercise and getting somewhere so quickly.  After I had to leave her I must confess to feeling distressingly….well, pedestrian.  That’s an odd feeling for someone who has always revelled in trotting around cities on foot.

So, there’s something to add to the Berlin list: get a bike and get better at riding one.  The list now looks like this

  1. get a job
  2. get a German phone number and some kind of pay-as-you-go set up. And I learnt that the vodafone German for PAYG is Call-Ya.  That’s almost as good as Handy=mobile phone.
  3. find a place to live
  4. get my Anmeldung, or registration of address
  5. open a bank account
  6. get a tax number Well almost. The form is submitted, just waiting for the post now.
  7. organise health insurance – getting pretty urgent now
  8. live an organised life where I keep receipts for tax purpose, learn how to bill in German and be an actual real life teacher. Work in progress!
  9. get a sofa bed for book reading and visitor comfort
  10. get a bike

hmm….