I am a bad blogger…

The Lebanese flag
The Lebanese flag

As I mentioned on Friday, we went to look at a flat in Basel on Saturday. The appointment was late afternoon, so we decided to stay the night in Lörrach (on the German side of the border, where hotels are cheaper) and take some time on Sunday to drive around all the areas of Basel where we have inquired about flats. On Saturday night, we went out to eat at a Lebanese restaurant in Lörrach where I failed to take a single photo. Bad blogger! I can assure you that Lebanese food is very tasty, though. For me, it seemed like a mixture of Greek and Turkish cuisine, which is interesting seeing as it’s nowhere near either of those! The menu contained lots of aubergine, chickpeas and lamb dishes. Making a decision was difficult, so we chose a four-course set meal to get a bit of everything. There was a mixed starter plate followed by salad then a main course of meat, meat and more meat served with a spicy tomato cous cous. Dessert was some kind of coconut/cream cake plus a plate of different fruits. It was all delicious and I can highly recommend Cedar’s Lebanese Restaurant if you ever find yourself in Lörrach. You might want to reserve though – it was busy! We were initially sent away for an hour and then asked whether we minded sharing a table with another couple.

In other news, the flat we looked at was nice but much smaller than our current one! It’s in a nice area and has a big balcony out the back, though. We’re currently in the process of filling out forms for the (potential) landlady and gathering evidence that, should we move in, we can actually pay the rent! It seems there are many hoops to jump through before you can actually rent a flat in Switzerland… Meanwhile, we have 2 more appointments arranged for next weekend and are still frantically checking rental websites for new ads every day. Fingers crossed something works out soon!

Friday letters

Hello! I’m off work today (using up some holiday from last year that needs to be taken before the end of March) and we’re hopefully going to look at a flat or two in Basel this weekend. We’ve definitely got one to view tomorrow anyway. Exciting! I hope you’re all having a nice Friday and not working too hard 😉 Now for today’s letters.

Friday letters

Dear Deutsche Bahn. In the last two weeks, you’ve managed to pull straight into the station in the morning exactly twice. On every other day, we’ve been on time throughout the entire journey only to stop immediately before our detination because the section of track at our platform was still occupied by another train. This kind of thing should not be happening 3 days in a row! Sort it out! I’m tired of missing my tram to work and having to walk (and arrive later).

Dear guy eating a chocolate muffin on the train. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks cake is a suitable breakfast!

Dear flat advertisers. I wish you would just get back to me already! Also, automated replies saying “phone the current tenant” are annoying. Does nobody out there do e-mail? How am I supposed to find the time to make phone calls?!

Dear fellow bloggers. Sorry if I haven’t visited your blog recently. I’ve been trying to get round to everybody but life (or, more accurately, work) keeps getting in the way!

Dear readers. Thanks for all the congratulations yesterday.

Now here are some links.

Cecilia in the Rain recommended this blog and it’s amazing! basically, this person takes her favourite books and creates food based on them. If you like cooking, books, or both you must check this blog out!

Are any of my readers Doctor Who fans? How about Lego fans? Then this will interest you: Doctor Who is getting its own Lego set later this year.

I recently came across this news article and I’m fascinated by it! This woman – going by the name of Lori Erica Ruff – committed suicide in 2010. When her husband and his family were going through her stuff, they found out that she had stolen the identity of a dead baby then legally changed her name from the baby’s name to another. Nobody seems to know who she really is. It sounds like the start of a mystery/thriller, except it’s real life. What?!

 Have a great weekend everyone! I’m off to try and track down some more flats to enquire about…

The story so far…

This post probably won’t be interesting to anyone but me – and possibly a few members of my family who I know have recently started reading (hi mam!), but writing this stuff down is a way for me to figure out what we have actually done for the move so far… a kind of checking off of the to-do list, if you will. Feel free to skip this one if it bores you 😉

  1. I have cancelled my Bahn Card 100. I received confirmation last week that, as of 1st May, I will no longer be a Bahn Card 100 holder. So no more spontaneous travelling in Germany without a ticket for me! This was the first occurrence that made the whole “moving to Switzerland” thing feel real. Scary and exhilarating!
  2. We have given notice for our flat. Well, sort of. We wrote an e-mail on Saturday evening to make sure we were within the notice period, but the landlady wants it in writing because she isn’t sure whether it’s valid without a signature. I gave notice on my last flat by e-mail, but whatever she wants. She agrees that by e-mailing we adhered to the notice period, so it’s all good.
  3. Jan has been in touch with a tax advisor and the Basel Ausländerbehörde (foreigner’s office). Apparently I can get a residence permit for Switzerland… I just need to fill in a particular form and provide a work contract and bank statement, presumably so they can check whether I have enough money to be allowed to live in the land of banks!
  4. We have started the process of looking for flats, and man is it tedious! We’ve already had one response saying “you can contact the current tenant to arrange a viewing, but please note that we’re looking for a quiet, single person”. And why couldn’t you have said that in the advert and saved me the bother of e-mailing you? Plus isn’t that discrimination?! Naughty Swiss!

Aaaand I think that’s all so far. Still to do: actually find a flat, sort out my German bank account, sign a new contract with work, cancel the Internet at our current place, sort out and get rid of things we don’t want to take, arrange for a removals company to come and take most of our stuff away, clean the entire flat like it’s never been cleaned before and, finally, pack! phew. Am I missing anything?

First Friday letters of 2015

I’m finally getting round to writing my first Friday letters of the year and I realise I actually have very little to say! It hasn’t been the most eventful of weeks. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll think of something…

letter box

Dear cheese. Why are you so tasty? It makes resisting you very difficult!

Dear tax advisers. I hope you can answer all our questions so we can get on with things soon!

Dear flats. I’ve already found a few of you online, so as soon as we figure out which side of the border we’ll be living on I’ll make some appointments to come and see you.

Dear time. Please could you stop going so fast? January is half over already and I feel like I’ve made no progress on the moving to (probably) Switzerland thing.

That’s all for today. Have a great weekend, everyone!

I should be celebrating…

We have the contract! It’s here, sitting on top of Detolf, waiting for us to read through it, which will happen later this evening once Jan returns from playing football with his friends. We met at the flat to pick up the contracts, so I got to see it again. It’s still as nice as I remembered 🙂 Jan even admitted to me that he’s excited (I asked if I could have it in writing!) and of course I’m overjoyed. A flat with my boyfriend! An actual home together. I thought this day would never come. So it should have been a day of celebration. Instead I’m sitting here attempting to work on my dissertation while nursing a spectacularly awful cold. It started yesterday with a sore throat and a runny nose and today has progressed to constant sneezing, aches and pains, a head that feels like it’s full of wet cotton wool and a nose that’s sometimes blocked, sometimes running. Not that it matters which version it chooses – either way I can’t breathe properly! Oh, and I’m also freezing despite the fact that it’s quite warm today. But apart from that I feel fine.
I need to get better by Monday. My colleague is off next week, which leaves me as the sole English translator, and there’s lots of work to be done. Anyone know any quick fixes for a cold? And please don’t say sleep… dissertation, remember?

Nearly there…

We went to view a very nice flat yesterday. Three rooms, close to the train station (only 2 tram stops away), gorgeous wooden floors, and a brand new kitchen just about to be installed.
Today, the man called Jan and offered to us. We had to make a decision by 8 p.m. After much umming and erring and working out of finances, followed by a phone call to Jan’s mum for advice, we decided to take it. We have a meeting at the house tomorrow morning, where we shall be given the contract. Then we have the rest of the weekend to look over it and make sure everything’s satisfactory. If all is to our liking we’ll sign it then, on Monday, return it. And then the flat shall be ours. Finally the search is over! I think a bottle of sparkling wine shall have to be opened tonight…

Yessssssssssss!

Furniture and things

First things first… some photographs for those who requested them (or actually just answered my question with a yes, but you know what I mean…).
We’ll start in the bedroom, just because those are the photos that appear first in the folder…
Photo one is the chest of drawers (well, duh! Talk about stating the obvious!). Currently looking very neat and tidy, but I’m sure it won’t be long before the same chaos that reigns on every other sufrace in the flat has made it on to there to. *sigh*. That cardboard box you see to the left of the drawers contains the bedside table. It was only put up yesterday and I was working on my dissertation all day so no photo yet I’m afraid.

Moving on, and the chest of drawers has been joined by a wardrobe. Just a small one for now – we only really needed somehwere to hang stuff up since the drawers will do just fine fo things that can be folded. Eventually we’ll get a bigger (and probably slightly more expensive) wardrobe for our room in the new flat, but that wasn’t the purpose of this weekend’s mission.

And now let’s take a trip to the livign room…
Here you see Detolf, the cabinet. I am so overjoyed to finally have some storage space! Those plates you see at the bottom had been living on on the floor gathering dust up to now. Finally, after a little more than a year, I’ve managed to find them a home…

And that brings us to my final photo.
It’s a lamp! Eventually it’s place will be next to the sofa – which Jan will be bring with him from his flat. I actually can’t wait to have a sofa to snuggle up on! For now, though, the lamp has to be content with standing to one side of my living room, looking slightly lonely and out of place.
And that, my friends, is that. Not bad for an afternoon’s shopping.

And in other news, we had an appointment to look at another flat today. It was at 9:15 this morning, so I arranged to work from home today instaed of taking a half day and not starting til around 12 pm (and before you ask yes I did actually do work!). The flat was nice but would need a fair amount doing to it – like a proper kitchen putting in for one! – which of course would be expensive. Once again it all comes down to the money factor! We’l discuss it tonight though and I’m hoping a decision will have been made by Thursday at the latest. Stay tuned!

Take a deep breath…

I’m home from work, have eaten my lunch and soon it will be time to go and view the first flat.
The one Jan is probably not coming to view with me (he has now said he’ll try). the one where I rearranged the appointment so he could come with me.
I currently feel sick with nerves. I don’t want to go and view a flat on my own. Usually I let Jan ask all the questions while I just smile and try to look friendly. I’m useless at talking to people I don’t know – even more useless if they’re German and I need them to be impressed by me so I can have the flat I’m looking at. The person showing me around this one is (I think) the current tenant – I got my current flat because the people who lived here at the time recommended me to the landlady. Jan was with me then and did most of the talking. This time I’ll be all alone…
Cross your fingers for me please.

Had enough

(Warning: Rant ahead!!)
I am so sick of flat hunting, and it’s not even close to being over yet!

For the past week, while Jan has been in Spain with work, I’ve been replying to adverts for flats. Since Jan is back tonight (or really early hours of tomorrow morning, but whatever) I took the afternoon off work tomorrow and managed to arrange two viewing appointments tomorrow evening. The first person to write to me offered me one at 6:30 pm. I e-mailed Jan to see if that was ok, he told me it was. So I confirmed. Then somebody offered me an appointment at 5:30 pm. I e-mailed Jan again, asking whether he could make it that early… whether he thought an hour would be enough time to view one flat then get to the other. He did not answer.  The next moring, I sent an email back to the person with the flat asking whether we could possibly come a little earlier. Within a couple of hourse he replied saying that he couldn’t make it any earlier, but he would be sure to turn up on time. At this point I still did not have an answer from Jan. So I topped up my phone and sent him a message asking him to call me, which he then did. He said he would be able to make it. Hurrah! So I e-mailed the flat guy again and said we would be there at 5:30. Two appointments sorted.
Then yesterday I had a reply from somebody else. He offered me an appointment to view a flat today at 3pm. I sent a reply saying my boyfriend was away with work, so could we please have an appointment next week instead. He offered me one tomorrow, at 4:15 pm. I accepted and sent Jan a text telling him we had a third appointment. I had told him on the phone that I was taking a half day and would be informing people that we could only take appointments before 5 pm on Monday, otherwise it would have to be after 6 on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday (purposely keeping Thursday free so he wouldn’t have to miss choir!!). Half an hour later he called to inform me that he can’t make it that early on tomorrow. After spending an entire week in Spain with work, only getting back at stupid o’clock in the morning, you would think it would be possible to take that afternoon off work. But apparantly not. “Well, that’s ok” Jan said. “You’ll just have to go on your own and tell me afterwards what it’s like”. Oh, ok then. So I’ll turn up there ALONE, having refused an earlier viewing becuase my boyfriend couldn’t make it. Because that’s not going to make me look stupid at all! And besides that, what is the point in me looking at a flat that we are potentially going to live in? Maybe so that I can get the blame if we then take it and Jan decides it’s not good enough after all?
Also – and this is something that Jan will never, ever in a million years understand – I don’t want to go and look at flats on my own. I don’t want to have to be shown around by complete strangers, who are going to notice within the first five seconds of me ringing the doorbell that I’m foreign (if they hadn’t already gathered that from reading my name in the e-mail) without anyone there for moral support. I don’t want to think of all the relevant questions and remember to make a note of what’s important without any help. But apparantly that’s what I’m going to have to do.
I was looking forward to tomorrow… now I’m dreading it.
Just one more thing for me to lay awake worrying about I guess…

Taking the easy way out…

I’m tired today. And once again stupidly busy (flat viewing this morning… then home to laundry, dissertation. Now it’s almsot time to cook tea…). But I feel bad that I’ve been neglecting my poor blog again. So I’m taking the easy way out with a meme that I meant to steal from Hails ages ago. You know you’ve been busy when you haven”t even had time for a cheat’s post! Ah well, I’m doing it now…

A. Attached or single? Attached. Although I prefer to think of it as “in a relationship”

B. Best friend? I don’t think I have one. I used to have one, but then my sister moved up to my dad’s and most of my friends suddenly realised they liked her better. Anyway, I live too far away from most of my friends now. And the people I know here are mostly just that… people I know. Three of them I would refer to as friends, but best friends? No. They already have one.

C. Cake or pie? Right now definitely pie. Preferably meat pie. I miss pie! And pasties. Why do German bakers not do pasties?

D. Day of choice? Strangely I think right now it’s Monday. I love my job (even though it’s stressful and tiring at times), Monday is early enough in the week for exhaustion not to have kicked in yet, and it gets me away from the dreaded dissertation of doom which is currently taking up every minute of my weekend that isn’t spent on housework.

E. Essential item? Train ticket, to get to work.

F. Favorite color? Red. But don’t tell my family, or they’ll buy me so much red stuff I’ll get utterly sick of it and never want to see it again. That’s what happened with my old favourite colur (purple). My old bedroom at my dad’s is still full of purple candles, purple ornaments, purple items of clothing.  Aargh!

G. Gummy bears or worms? Sour worms.

H. Hometown? Mostly Karlsruhe. Although part of me still thinks of the North East of England as home (I know that’s not a town but I just can’t bring myself to call the actual town I spent my teenage years in “home”. I was too pleased to get away from the place!)

I. Favorite indulgence? Eating ice cream on a cold day.

J. January or July? July. I love the summer (despite that fact that it hates me) and January is all dark and cold. At least in July I still get to see some sunlight… in January I leave for work in the dark and by home time it’s dark again.

K. Kids? Love them. I always wanted three, but with each year that passes the chances get slimmer (and my Grandma’s pleas to be made a Great-Grandma get louder…)

L. Life isn’t complete without? Friends, love and travel.

M. Marriage date? Possibly never.

N. Number of brothers and sisters? One sister. Two half brothers (who are not related to one another). All younger, although in the sister’s case nobody believes it.

O. Oranges or apples? Oranges I guess, although I prefer satsumas… which you can’t get here.

P. Phobias? Moths. Ugh.

Q. Quotes? Lots. I collect them. In fact, I have a whole page of them. If you really want to see a quote go there.

R. Reasons to smile? I love my job and soon I’ll (finally) have a flat with the boyfriend. Once the dissertation is handed in the smile will get bigger.

S. Season of choice? Spring, if it’s warm. I love summer, but it hates me (I get sunstroke reeeally easily). Autumn is nice for about three days (when it’s still warm and the trees are pretty colours), before turning grey and miserable, and Winter means Christmas which is not the favourite holiday of my family.

T. Tag 5 people. No. Anyone who wants to do it may feel free to tag themselves.

U. Unknown fact about me? Umm… what haven’t I already told you? No idea. Tell you what… anything you want to know, ask and I’ll write a post with answers. (And now it’s going to be really embarrassing if nobody asks anything…)

V. Vegetable? I’m not good with vegetables. Most of them make me feel sick. But I LOVE aubergines. Which is probably strange when you think about it…

W. Worst habits? Biting my nails. I’ve been trying to stop for years! Also, sarcasm. And an inability to stop buying books (curse you Amazon!)

X. X-ray or ultrasound? Huh?

Y. Your favorite food? Potatoes! Mashed, roast, baked. As chips, in soup. Prepare them any way you like, I will eat them.

Z. Zodiac sign? Leo, the lion. Which makes my birth stone tiger’s eye. Much better than my month birth stone, which is peridot.