Swerving and skulking

Swerving and skulking

Just back from my 4th solo cycle ride! In case you don’t know, I never learnt to cycle as a child – jumping off at the slightest hint of losing balance. R has been very persistent and patient in attempts to rectify this over the last 3 years and I’m now kitted out with a grandma bike complete with a basket on the back, a gel saddle and two separate gear changing knobs – quite.

The local shops are within walking distance but the preferred choice is slightly further away and host to a supermarket with a bakery and butchers onsite.
The route to said supermarket is mainly on a cycle path – a route so beautiful that people holiday here in order to cycle through such gorgeous mountain views. Once I get going, I’m actually ok – it’s the ‘setting off’ that holds the potential for comedic moments. Giant swerves with each of the first 3 peddles but then WHOOSH , I’m away.
On my last visit, I had utilised my beginner german by asking staff where certain items were/if they had more of the item that appeared to be out of stock etc. Rather exhausted by these attempts, I decided to avoid a cashier and utilise the self service checkout. Back in the UK I would avoid these as protest to the fact that machines were stealing human jobs but as I said, desperation to avoid german conversation was upon me.
So….I set the basket down and place my bag on the scales. The screen declares that I need assistance so I look around.. A scream issues forth from a teenager and appears to be aimed at me. The words ‘bad’ and ‘stop’ were the only things I could understand but the tone of voice and decibels were enough to stop me in my tracks
(By the way, it’s incredible how much one relies on tone of voice when you only catch the odd word of what is said)
It would appear that you are not able to place a bag on the scales until you have scanned all the items through. She became almost helpful by the end of the debacle – I did proffer my ‘go-to’ phrase “ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch” but, alas, I fear we will not be the best of friends

 

*update*
Today I returned to the same supermarket and planned to use the cashier but with storm clouds brewing, a lengthy line of elderly customers in front (the treatment of the elderly is exceptional, by the way, and this is not a complaint but an awareness that things would take a while) and the self service machines being completely free; I threw caution to the wind and felt confident I would not screw up. Again.

All went well until I had paid, collected my change and started packing my bag. It seems the machine needs time to collect it’s thoughts before issuing a receipt and it is ILLEGAL to start packing or add your bag as weight to the scales before this sacred moment. Gargh! !! Again, an irate member of staff berates me with ‘schlecht’. I use my pitiful ‘ I only speak a little german’ and get (in German) “Yes, well you still can’t do that. It’s very bad. Whole bag needs to be emptied and you must start again.”
Fortunately, she meant packing and I’d only packed the potatoes but I recovered some dignity upon leaving the self service area, as the lady behind me in the queue (but by this time ahead!) didn’t know you needed to scan your receipt to get out. This foreigner was happy to help!

Branding

Branding

Butter – salted or unsalted? Everyone has a preference (some, even, for margarine but let’s not go there)
One thing I was ignorant to – read ‘one of the many things’ – is that branding would alter between countries.
Being a salted butter gal, I’m sure you can imagine my delight on finding Kerrygold original in our local supermarket. R was pretty convinced that it was going to be unsalted but I put that down to him not knowing his Irish butter as well as I.
Oh. The sadness when I try it and it is indeed UNsalted.
Dear reader, please do not imagine that I am having to use a salt shaker over my butter in the meantime – I came prepared and packed butter in my case when flew out! It is, however, necessary to find a suitable replacement ASAP

And so on the next trip, I peruse the butter section and discover that President (well known to me as unsalted French stuff proffered at Paul and such like) is in fact salted, in Germany. I also discover Kerrygold extra and am delighted to report that it’s suitably salted and adds a touch of Ireland to our fridge.

Food catastrophe nummer 1 averted!

https://www.kerrygold.de/nc/kerrygold-tv/video///kerrygold-extra.html

Kerrygold Ungesalzen indeed…tsk!

Bavarian paradiso

Bavarian paradiso

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.

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Flying fun

Flying fun

I am flying with a large case and hand luggage, due to the 9 days between the removals van leaving and me actually flying out to Munich. Bedding has taken up most of the weight limit but I couldn’t bring myself to spend the last few nights under a single duvet – precious, I know.

On checking in, the usual irksome issue rose it’s head: when asked for my nationality, the answers of ‘British’ or ‘English’ were not accepted. The answer is, apparently, United Kingdom. What?! United Kingdom-ish? Grrrr

Baggage check-in and I’m 5kgs over the allowance. For the first time ever, no excuses came to mind until I remembered I’m MOVING to Germany and though I’m not convinced he believed me, I was let off with no extra charge! I wonder if that’s a regular excuse. No doubt more feasible on a single rather than return ticket!

Relishing a ‘final’ full English at the airport, now, alongisde my favourite pastime: people watching. Airports are particularly good fodder for this, as the people invariably fall into two categories
1) the frequent or confident flyer
2) stressed

I’m sat two tables away from a couple. She falls into category 1 and he, into 2 so it’s delightfully entertaining. Bearing witness to her becoming incresingly calm in direct contrast to his stress levels rising at a great pace due to the laptop not charging the satnav quickly enough/ketchup being slow to plunge onto his plate and when it does, over his sausage (he only wanted it on the bacon). For the purposes of the tape, I am not earwigging. They extend an invite to everyone’s ears through the generosity of their searing accents and booming natural projection

I wouldn’t say I enjoy flying, but it’s only extreme weather conditions that give me any real cause for concern and once through security, I like to revel in that rare scenario whereby you have nowhere to go and nothing to do beyond picking up some water, grabbing some food and perusing the duty-free but still over-priced luxury items. That said, must keep an eye on the departures board. Being so relaxed that I miss my flight would be just the kind of thing I would do…

 

P.S. I’m here! Due to an error, my seat was upgraded to business class – what a way to start this next chapter. Much as I planned (in the 20 paces between boarding gate and plane) to take it all in my stride, I could not hide how thrilled I was. I am certain there will have been no doubt in the minds of  my fellow passengers and crew that I was an ‘upgrade case’.

Aloha!

Aloha!

Christening this little blog/diary as I sit on a Cardiff-London coach journey.
I envisage that it will be a series of postcard sized snippets enabling me to share the small but pertinent anecdotes with those of you whom wish to be updated on this Bavarian adventure!

Now that my hoard of belongings are safely in Germany, I am left with a few days to steel myself for the imminent immersion into Bavarian life

Village living is not so alien to me, having grown up on the island* but after nearly 12 years of the Big Smoke, there are already elements I’m looking forward to and dreading!
The neighbours have already expressed interest in meeting us and ‘breaking the ice’. Before the internet, this could have been a fabulous opportunity to concoct ludicrous rituals and pass them off as English eccentricities. I suppose there may still be a little room for Island-isms; your suggestions on a postcard, please!

To R’s amusement, two (small) boxes amidst the van-load were filled with food. I’ve no doubt that all these products are possible to source in Germany or that adequate versions exist. Nonetheless, the list of those that I didn’t wish to spend any time seeking out in my first few weeks include:
Self-raising flour
No-peel marmalade
Bisto gravy granules – chicken/beef/onion
Ambrosia custard (cravings are cravings!)
Non-bio washing powder (more on that another time)

Some of you may be surprised to know I rely on granules, what with my staple diet being meat and potatoes, but I plan to continue to resist developing the skill of making my own gravy and sauces. One grown-up step at a time, eh?

I am quite looking forward to the familiarity of neighbours/local grocers/bakers etc and I love passing the time of day with people you recognise – something that’s also possible in a massive city but certainly a rarer occurence.

*CLAXON*

All of these situations will require German..and so, a flash of insight into the thought processes of recent weeks.

There are many, many things I am excited about BUT my fear of moving to a country where I am not even nearly fluent in the language, terrifies me.

I am going to spend the rest of this coach journey researching the language courses available in the nearby towns/cities. I hope to be on one ASAP!

Tschüss