May 2019 recap

Hello my lovelies. Today I’m here to talk about May. Not Theresa May – I have no desire to discuss her or any of the mess that is currently politics in Britain. No, I mean the month of May… and specifically what I got up to in it.

Of course I am linking up with the lovely Kristen for What’s New With You.

whats new with you

In a way, it was a month of two halves. For the first two weeks, we were living on an actual building site while our bathrooms and kitchen were being replaced. That meant our flat had no shower, no toilets and nowhere to cook. We were provided with a portable toilet and a small electric hob, and there was a temporary shower set up downstairs in the drying room. For those who missed it, a couple of photos of what the place looked like, including one of the sink that was installed in the stairwell so we could at least attempt to wash dishes:

During the week, I rented a desk in a co-working space and at night we ate out. Spending as little time as possible at home made things bearable, but it was still a relief when the time came for us to go on holiday! Since we were flying from Zurich airport relatively early in the morning, we decided to go to Zurich the night before (well, Jan just stayed there since it’s where he worked) and sleep in a hotel. I am so glad we did! It meant a night in a dust-free room, a proper shower and a slightly later/less stressful start – we would have had to take a train from Basel at around 6 a.m.!

And then it was off to Ronda, Spain to meet family and friends. We had two full days and an afternoon there with my sister and brother-in-law, sister’s best friend and her boyfriend, my brother, my mum and my mum’s friend. My mum, her friend, Jan, my brother and I all stayed in a lovely apartment while the others were just down the road.

Everyone else left early on the Tuesday morning, but we had decided we wanted to have more than an extended weekend away, so we had booked an apartment in Cádiz for the next two nights. On the way there, we stopped off for a day on Gibraltar. The town is so bizarre – looking at it, you could be on any high street in the UK – there’s Debenhams, Next, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, multiple fish and chip shops. I even spied my bank (Natwest). The post boxes and phone booths are red and even the bins resembled those I know from Newcastle. But the buildings and trees are all wrong – I’ve never seen purple blossoms in the middle of a British town!

After wandering through the town, we of course took the cable car up the mountain, because what else do you do on Gibraltar? It was amazing being right up close to the monkeys – but also kind of terrifying. Especially when two of them started shouting at each other and it seemed like a fight was about to happen. We were already heading back to the cable car at that point and needless to say we didn’t hang around near those particular apes for long!

We then drove on to Cádiz, arriving around 6 o’clock in the evening, spent the next day there and finally headed to Lisbon via Evora. After two days in Lisbon and a very brief stop in Sintra on our final morning, it was time to fly home. Back in Basel, we stopped for dinner before doing anything else since we had no idea what the state of our flat was going to be…

As it turns out, it was almost finished. We had toilets that actually flushed and a working kitchen (although we waited until after the final inspection to actually use it). I still had another week off work so on the Monday I walked into town very early in the morning so the flat would be free for them to get on with whatever last minute things needed doing. I bought breakfast, which I ate in the park, then went to a café called Unternehmen Mitte where they let you just sit without having to purchase anything. There, I finished the book I had started reading on the flight home. So that killed about 2 hours. I had a wander round town, bought and ate some lunch, then ended up in a bookshop where I was very naughty and bought two books. I then read one of those books sitting at the train station – the only other place I could think of where you can sit for ages without being moved on! My initial idea had been to go back to the park where I had breakfast, but every seat was taken by people on their lunch breaks. Book finished, I went and treated myself to coffee and cake in the restaurant of a department store. Finally, at 4 p.m. I started walking home, arriving to find that the builders had already left. Tuesday was inspection day, so I trailed the construction manager and his assistant as they made a list of all the small things that still needed to be done – cracks to paint over, holes to be filled. I also got official permission to fill the fridge and start putting things back in the kitchen, so that’s what I spent the rest of the week doing. Plus cleaning every single thing. Construction dust gets everywhere! I’ve never hoovered so much in my life Thursday was a public holiday, so on that day I actually had Jan to help. And the new washing machine (in our actual flat!) got used a lot. As did the tumbler dryer, which I am aware is incredibly bad for the environment but with the drying room still out of commission (that’s where the temporary shower resides) and a friend staying over on Saturday, which meant the spare room bedding needed to be freed from dust, we didn’t have much of a choice. You can’t dry sheets and quilt covers on a clothes horse!

Okay, this is already long so just quickly. During those first two weeks when everything was going on, we obviously didn’t want to spend too much time in our dusty, dusty flat, so on 1st May – a public holiday – we went to Porrentruy, which is cute but not that exciting. Then on the 4th the builders needed access on a Saturday (at 8 a.m. – no lie in for us!) so we headed to Lenzburg because it was raining and there was a castle that would allow us to be inside. The following Saturday, Jan had a concert in the evening so we ate lunch in town and did some shopping before he had to leave (and I then followed an hour later to attend said concert).

Lenzburg
Lenzburg Castle

As for yearly goals… I didn’t really keep track of my vegetable intake, but we ate at Markthalle and vegetarian restaurant a lot so I think I got my five portions most days… at least until we went on holiday. Lots of cheese and meat boards were consumed there. I definitely managed to drink enough water for the entire month, which I’m proud of. And I finally actually finished a non-fiction book. I mean, I only want to read ten this year and we’re already nearly halfway through. No big deal…

I think that just about sums up my May. The rest of the time I worked (from a co-working space) and attempted to keep the living room and bedroom free from the worst of the dust – a Sisyphean task if there ever was one! My next post will be my choices for round 11 of Erin’s book challenge, which starts on 1st July. May wasn’t my best reading month (although I managed 9 books, so also not my worst ever) so I am hoping to get lots of reading done over the summer months.

Okay, enough. I seem to have gone back to that old rambling format that I was trying to get away from and I’m sure you’re bored of me by now. Go check out the link up because Kristen is awesome and should be shown all the love. And tell me in the comments what you’ve been up to lately.

“I don’t think that’s where the bath tub belongs”…

… and other tales from the building site.

Not much to tell you today, but I thought I’d update anyway. These photos were actually taken at the weekend and I didn’t get round to posting them, but there’s no visible difference today anyway so it’s fine.

Last week they put fire protection walls over the pipes in the bathrooms. I know they’re fire protection walls because they were standing outside our flat door the day before and that’s what the label on them said 😉 Then a few days later a shower tray (I assume) and bath tub appeared. The bath isn’t quite where it belongs yet though…

 

(I guess you can’t really tell from the photo, but the bath is literally in front of the door.)
Those black pipes that are just standing around in the picture on the left have gone now, although I’m not sure where…

The kitchen looks the same, so no photo. Although today they’ve removed some of the drawers and the cupboard thing (with bins attached) from under the sink, so it seems like today they’ve been doing things with the wiring, which is less dramatic/visible that other things but also important. Other than that a whole bunch of stuff has appeared in the corridor again… wall panels like the ones that went over the pipes in the kitchen and something that may be for the kitchen floor? I’m not sure. Hopefully that will all be getting installed somewhere tomorrow. We’ll see.

Also, we had a (literal) shit show with the temporary shower/toilet facilities at the weekend. I went down there on Saturday morning to find what I thought was water on the floor. Then I looked down the side of the container and… it was not just water. Jan called the construction manager who first claimed we weren’t supposed to be using the toilet since we have chemical ones (nope, not what we were told!) then blamed the residents for throwing things down there they shouldn’t have. Which makes no sense because it wasn’t blocked but clearly leaking/not attached properly. He then told us there was still one bathroom in the next door building that could be used… the water there was being switched off on Monday (as in today) but it could be used over the weekend. And he would send somebody to clean up the mess. So I got to shower in a real bathroom again over the weekend and this morning. I’ll be back using the temporary shower tomorrow though (at 5 a.m. since I also have to go into the office tomorrow. Ugh.). Five more sleeps until holiday…

We (sort of) have a kitchen!

Hello friends! It’s time for another update on the building site that is our home. I was going to write one at the weekend but then we returned home on Friday to a note on the door requesting access at 8 the next morning. That’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday! So I decided to wait until that was done and then ended up not having time to post, so you get an extra two days of progress… and what progress it is. This is how our kitchen looks now:

Above the long drawers at the back there is a hob (for my American friends that would be hotplates), the doors to the right of the oven house a fridge and a freezer and the “cupboard” beside the sink is actually home to a dishwasher. Also, that squareish mark on the ceiling above the cupboards/shelf part? That’s actually where the fridge used to be, so from that you can see where the kitchen has been extended slightly into the dining area giving us a little more kitchen space.

The bathrooms, on the other hand, haven’t progressed a great deal. Here they are:

Without referring to last week’s post you probably won’t even be able to tell what’s been done. An additional frame has been added on top of the one that was previously fitted and there are a few more pipes/hoses back there. I’m interested to see what will be happening next…

Apart from that, work has now started in the next door part of the building, so there are no longer empty flats with bathrooms over there. Instead, a temporary shower/toilet/sink unit have been set up downstairs. Things actually worked pretty well with the bathroom next door – having to go over there was slightly annoying, but nothing I couldn’t deal with and it was always free when I needed it (there were two flats each with two bathrooms, which meant a total of four toilets and two showers available (plus two bathtubs)). Now there is one shower/toilet for everyone who is left in the building and today, on the very first day of having to use it, our upstairs neighbour went in there right as I was about to go downstairs. So tomorrow I’ll be getting up even earlier. (Jan, meanwhile, opted to get up a little earlier this morning and use the showers at his work.) Surprisingly though, the shower situation isn’t what annoys me most. The most annoying thing – apart from having to be up early on Saturday – is the dust. It’s everywhere! The dust sheets on the doors do a reasonable job of keeping most of it out, but they can’t stop it from being tracked in on our feet. And given that we have to walk through the dusty corridor no matter which room we want to enter the dust always follows. The second most annoying thing is that they’ve done something to the electricity so even though the trip switch is on there is no electricity in our bedroom. Getting ready for bed by the light of my phone torch is not my idea of fun…

Only this week and next week to get through and then we’re on holiday. We can do this! (She said, hopefully.)

Further dispatches from the building site

Hello! After publishing my last post about our current living situation I thought it might be nice to make a little series out of it to document the progress that’s being made. Given that tomorrow is a holiday and the builders will therefore not be coming, tonight seemed like a good time for another report as the state right now is what we’ll be living with on our day off work.

First I want to show you the sink I mentioned in my previous post:

construction8

Washing dishes is a pain, which is why we’ve been eating out a lot.

That pipe in the kitchen has now been enclosed, and today some cupboards appeared. Yay!

I mean, so far they have no door handles and don’t seem to be attached, but you’ve got to take what you can get.

Here are the bathrooms. Apparently they just aren’t going to bother removing the tiles in the second one. Whatever. As long as I don’t have to see them any more in all their 80s glory 😉

The corridor is absolutely full of stuff, which I’m hoping means even more progress will be made on Thursday. (It also has no electricity so excuse the terrible lighting).

So, something has definitely happened since my last post but we still have a way to go. Here’s to the next few weeks going fast!

Greetings from the building site!

Last year we were informed that our building, which was built in 1986, was going to be renovated this year. Last month, as I mentioned in this post, the windows and radiators were replaced. Then this week the main part of the work started… the replacement of the bathrooms and kitchens.

First, the builders covered our entire corridor in wooden boards topped with dust sheets. The doors also got their own special dust sheet type things, with zips to allow us to still go through them.

The doors leaning against the well belong to the bathrooms. They will eventually be getting painted and returned to their rightful places.

Our shower used to be in the left-hand corner of this room, with the toilet on the right:

construction3

The room that used to contain the bath still has one wall of tiles but has acquired some cryptic markings:

construction4

Here’s the kitchen. The big silver pipe in the corner wasn’t there yesterday… progress, I guess?

construction5

They put a “wall” between the kitchen and the dining/living area to try and keep the rooms that aren’t being renovated somewhat usable. The first photo shows it from the kitchen side, the other is from the dining room.

Note the fridge in the second photo… we are at least allowed to keep that until the new one is in.

And moving left from the fridge, here’s where we’ve put all the food and kitchen equipment we thought we might need in the next few weeks…

construction-kitchen stuff

We’ve been given a hotplate so we can attempt to cook and there’s a sink attached to the railing in the stairwell (I should have taken a photo of that for you as well) where we can theoretically wash dishes – although it’s slightly awkward. We also have a portable toilet, which is exactly as wonderful as it sounds (/sarcasm). For now, however, we  can use the shower and toilet in one of the empty buildings next door (for reference, our building is split into three separate addresses, each with its own entrance, but down in the cellar there are connected doors so we can get into the other “buildings” without actually going outside). That will change when it’s their turn to have everything ripped out in two weeks, but by then temporary showers and toilets are supposed to have been installed in our showers. I’m curious to see how that’s going to work.

So, things are a little chaotic around here and I’m pretty sure we won’t be spending much of the weekend at home. However, on the bright side, the first week is already done and we survived. Just another three and then we’ll be on holiday for a week, and by the time we come back they should be basically finished. Hurrah!

Oh, and if you were wondering, I’m not working from home while all this is going on. I’ve rented a desk in a “co-working space”, which is slightly different to what I’m used to. New experiences all round!

I hope everything is much more normal in your lives, dear readers (I type, while muttering to myself: this too shall pass).