I’m not sure it will ever sink in that I live here! It really is the most picturesque scenery surrounding us – I keep pausing to look around and revel in what could not be more different from my many years (and many different abodes) in London. To be living in a tourist destination is not so alien to me, having grown up in one, but without sea nearby, it does feel very different. Hiking/mountaineering have never been hobbies of mine – wishing to find open water rather than scale new areas of land. I am, was, and always will be, a water baby.
It has, therefore, only taken me 3 days before seeking out the local outdoor swimming pool/lake. It’s a very quick cycle from ours but it’s in everyone’s best interests that I walk – for now, anyway!
Determined to attempt german conversation and keen to discover if there were changing facilities (NB this is not me being a prude but I don’t want to offend the locals if there’s a specific place to do it – it is Germany, after all!) I ask a couple if they know how deep the water is. I actually know it’s really deep but I don’t have the vocabulary for ‘changing area’ and when the answer is terrifically convoluted and expressing their differing opinions on how deep it is at different times of the year, I bring out the ‘I only speak a little bit of German’. Once it’s established that it’s deep enough for me to dive in – from the jetty and not from the side – I inquire as to a changing room and discover a 2 foot high pen. Their faces tell me no-one uses it. Hoorah – on this gloriously sunny day, I change and immediately walk to the jetty.
Not to be put off by the fact that the lake’s only visitors are paddling or snogging on the jetty, I take a few deep breaths and survey the glorious scenery before diving in.
It’s cold. So very cold. And I can tell it’s been a year since I was a winter lifeguard at the Ladies’ pond but I manage 3 mins (it felt like 20) before getting out. While I stretched out on the grass to dry off in the sun, various people came past and commented on the fact that I had gone for a dip when it’s so cold and I was able to communicate with them (albeit stuntedly).
This afternoon was truly fabulous – not only have I discovered the local lake and spent an afternoon in my kind of paradise, but it’s also the first time that I’ve felt capable of making small talk. Amidst the many challenges of cycling and learning German – not to mention finding work here – it suddenly feels possible that this may become my home.