On the magic in the middle

It doesn’t appear to make any sense.

None of it.

And yet, afterwards, you can look back and see all the paths and patterns and logical consequences.

And it’s kind of beautiful. And strange. And magical.



I’m not there yet, not at the patterns and consequences stage, but I am at a place where I can stand and take some breaths without fighting to keep my head above water.

I got a lot done in the last week and a half.

Despite, or possibly because of, all the frustration and rain and aching muscles and late nights and long(ish) journeys and complicated German grammar and broken things.

* I have a new bed (which I carried across town)

* I looked at a new old car and decided it was too broken to buy

* I have a new mattress

* I rearranged my room (to accommodate the bed)

* I’ve got to know a neighbour (a bit)

* I read my water meter and my radiators and handed in the numbers. Before the deadline

* I cycled something like 70km and walked a bit too

* I fought the trains with a bike and won, overall and on balance

* I saw parts of the city I would probably never otherwise have visited

* I met people who made me question my prejudice (sparkly clean floor and still welcoming towards dripping wet and muddy strangers)

* I have new skis

* I talked to the people at the garage about my car. By myself. Without anyone ‘super-knowledgable-about-cars” to talk about the ‘complicated things’ for me

* I spent a couple of hours reading (doesn’t happen nearly regularly enough)

* I sorted out my aquarium (water change, rescued 2 shrimp from the filter and pruned plants), and cleaned xDB’s aquarium filters (my fish..)

* I was contacted by someone who might be the dog’s original owner (yet to find out the exact connection)

* I had some fantastic late night online conversations with a friend I don’t see anywhere near often enough

* I taught myself and my after-school-help kid what adjectival attributes are (and genitive and prepositional ones)

* I started sorting through my enormous postcard-and-magazine-clippings box, ready to start decorating my room

* I rowed every day (on the machine), and got an all time personal best

* I have my old stereo back (almost)

* And the best part: some one really important to me got back in touch after several months – lots of good conversations (had, and hopefully to come)

And all that on top of working and keeping myself alive (washing (myself and my clothes), cooking, eating, washing up, sleeping…all the usual stuff)



I wrote the above yesterday lunchtime. I meant to come home, add the picture and press post.

I didn’t, partly because I got home later than expected – I worked until 6 and walked back with my stereo – and partly because I was so amazed/shocked/speechless about an email I received when I got home that I completely forgot about the post.

I’m not going to say what the email said, yet, except that it has to do with my miniature glass company and it’s very very cool news.

Yesterday was a very good day.


I feel like I’m still in the middle, but I can see the vaguest semblance of a path out. And right now, in the middle of all my chaos, I think life is pretty damn great ๐Ÿ™‚

Jimmy Eat World – The Middle (screenshot of a YouTube video)

On wearing nice socks

I wear odd socks. Odd, as in not matching, rather than intrinsically odd.

Sometimes they’re brightly coloured, sometimes dark, sometimes stripy, sometimes spotty, sometimes plain, sometimes patterned, sometimes with pictures. Sometimes they’re thick, sometimes thin, sometimes long sometimes short, sometimes in-between. Sometimes they’re boring socks, sometimes they’re just socks, not in need of a description.

Sometimes someone mentions them, mostly they don’t. If they do, they mostly only notice that they don’t match.

I notice other people’s socks occasionally, mostly if they aren’t wearing shoes. Sometimes I comment on them.

“Hey! [Those are] cool socks!” Smile. End of conversation.

What I have never done, is ask if I can wear them.

No one’s ever asked if they could wear mine either. If they had, I would have thought they were very very strange.

I have to admit that I’ve also never offered..

If someone told me I have nice socks, I would say thanks and probably move on to something more exciting. If I thought they were really interested I might say something like: “Yeah, I thought they were pretty cool too, I found them in a market in….blahblahblah..”

“Those are nice socks!”
“Thanks! Want to try them on?”

is not a conversation I’ve ever thought about having. Not in a million years.


Yesterday, while waiting at the airport, I flicked through a magazine.

Apparently, according to the magazine, 

“Hey! You’re wearing nice socks, can I try them on?”

made it onto the list of top 3 chat up lines for the next season.


Apparently that’s a thing.

I don’t claim to be an expert on chat up lines, I didn’t even know there was a list, but even assuming one exists, asking to wear someone else’s socks would never have occurred to me as a candidate, never mind one of the winners.

I have no idea how they choose what lands on it. Have they been compiled, thought up, tested? Do people write in with what worked for them?? Are there contests?

Several hours later I still can’t imagine a situation where that would be a good thing to say.

It’s entirely possible I’m missing the innuendo or a reference to something else because I miss a lot of references.

But I’m curious:

Is it me, or is the whole idea really really weird?

Do people really want to wear other people’s socks? Especially when the other person’s been wearing them..

Have I been missing out? 

On driving several tonnes of memories across Germany with no brakes

Wrote most some of this during the breaks in Friday’s adventure. I originally wanted to write about each step of the journey as it happened, but sometimes it was more important to participate than observe so I missed some lots of bits out, or wrote fragments instead of sentences. I thought about posting as was, but I had some time to kill on the flight and wanted to make it more readable so I’ve chopped and changed and added as necessary..


13:00 – motorway services carpark (where I bought my coffee)

S and I arranged to meet at the rental office at 8. I missed the train I wanted to catch so by the time I arrived she’d already sorted everything out and was raring to go – the helpers were booked to arrive soon and she had a couple of things she wanted to sort out before they turned up. All I had to do was hand over my driving licence (they gave it back afterwards)) and pick up the keys and then we could go.


The van is huuuuuge!! And has the turning circle of a block of flats. (Or at least a middle sized house). The place we borrowed it from has a lamppost directly next to the exit. Guess who dented the van before they’d even driven 200m….

Ho hum. We luckily have a good insurance policy.

Then we got a tiny bit lost on the way to S’s house so the helpers had to wait for us and S had to work round them.

They worked quickly and we were on the road half an hour earlier than we’d planned despite everything.

And now we’re on the first loobreak.

It’s windy and there are roadworks and it’s looking like rain, but there are no traffic jams (yet).



15:00 ish – Supermarket logistics centre carpark.

We’ve stopped because we have no brakes. Or at least dodgy brakes. Or not enough brakes. Or something.

We were driving along a motorway, minding our own business when the dashboard suddenly lit up like a rather monotonous Christmas tree (or a traffic light party).

I had no idea what some of the symbols and abbreviations meant, but some of them were red and I know red lights mean you should stop. The display screen told us to consult the handbook, but I didn’t fancy reading while driving and I’m against my dashboard telling me anything while I’m on the motorway, so we took the next exit and stopped in a logistics centre carpark.

According to the display and the guide to dashboard lights, we have no ESP, no ABS, no ASR, no hill holder…. Nuffink.

We consulted the handbook.
The handbook was almost entirely useless – it basically told us that a) it was something to do with the brakes and b) we should consult someone knowledgeable.

That we had no brakes can’t be quite true because I did bring it to a halt.

S is on the phone to the rental company to find out what to do next.

I used the time to smuggle my way into the logistics centre to use their loo. (If you don’t close the main door properly behind you, there will be someone who uses opportunity to follow you into the building..).

Life is never boring…

(Also, it didn’t just rain after we set off again earlier, it feels more accurate to say the sky fell down).


16:15 ish – still in the logistics carpark

A repair man is apparently on his way.. he is supposed to be here by 5… We originally wanted to be at the new house by then. That was honestly unlikely to happen, but we could have probably made it for just after 6. No chance of that now.


16:50 – still not going anywhere

I wrote: “New loo – lorry driver shed – renovation and lots of dust”

This was good. I walked up to the gatemen at the edge of the lorry park and asked if I could use the loo. They said they didn’t have one and they couldn’t let me onto the grounds to get to the main building. I asked where I should go instead, and they pointed me in the general direction of a garage. When I asked how far away that was and said I was on foot because my car had broken down, they admitted that they did indeed have a working toilet but that it was very dirty due to the renovation work going on. I was welcome to use it if I didn’t mind the rubble.

It was very rubbley, but still a lot better than a lot of motorway loos ๐Ÿ˜‰


19:00 ish – van repair workshop

The repair man arrived (at the carpark) at 17:something-late.. He’d got caught in a motorway closure and resulting traffic jams, and a journey that should have taken just under half an hour took him almost two.

He was friendly and helpful and thorough and unplugged things and tested things and checked things with a computer.

It turned out that something to do with the ABS/rear brakes was broken. I could either sign something to say that I was personally responsible for any accident that occurred on the rest of the journey, or we could get it repaired before continuing Essenwards. We were already so late that the unpacking helpers would be gone when we arrived, and I really didn’t want to be responsible for any more accidents, so we decided to get it repaired.

He couldn’t repair anything in the carpark in the dark, so we followed him back to the workshop.. slowly and carefully.

We now have a drinks machine with free cocoa/coffee/water and a couple of sofas to play with ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m going to sleep for a bit while they work on the van.


Midnight – at S’s parents’ house.

We got in, alive and well at 23:15 ish.

The last entry was as I was trying to sleep at the workshop…

No such luck. Or more luck, depending on how you look at it. Just as I was getting close to sleeping, they came back and said we could go – everything was mended :).

We drove the last 270something km in approximately 4 hours (including refuelling and getting lost in a car park). That’s incredibly slow for German motorways, but I’m a wimp and it was windy and I didn’t want to overtake all the lorries. I’m not good at overtaking on a good day in my car. On a crazy day like today in a 20something foot van, with less than enough sleep, I was even more reluctant than usual.. It’s amazing how much wind you don’t notice in a car..

S’s parents waited up for us, and we had soup as a kind of midnight snack while we recounted the days events.


I think, on balance, we did really well, considering, even if we could theoretically have done better..

On complicated coffee

I went out for coffee with a guy from school and his wife today. I’d borrowed some books for him and he was returning them now that school’s over. It was too cold to stand outside the library for long so we decided to find a cafรฉ. Most cafรฉs don’t appreciate cards, so I went to find an atm while they went to find a suitable cafรฉ. By the time I joined them, they’d already chosen a table and ordered.

Turns out you can’t go up to the till and add to an existing order, no, that would be too simple. Instead you have to go through a rigmarole involving going to the cake counter to choose a cake, getting a piece of paper with a number instead of a piece of actual cake, going back to the table, giving the paper to the waitress when she comes to take your drink-order, then waiting for her to bring whatever you ordered. You can’t go to the waitress, you can’t get your own drink, you can’t carry your own cake.

Life is complicated. I knew that. I also know that I don’t go out very much ans haven’t had much practice at placing orders in posh cafรฉs. I didn’t know how complicated simple things like ordering cake could be. I also didn’t realise that it’s normal for a slice of cake and a cup of hot chocolate to set you back more than 10โ‚ฌ.

In the end my friend from school paid for all of us to say thanks for the books. With the money I didn’t spend in the cafรฉ, I bought approximately 3 months worth of fish food and 18 plants for my house and balcony, and still got change back. That seems to be a much better way to spend money, even though I really enjoyed meeting up with them and appreciated having a place to sit out of the cold.

On winning

I passed – wheeeee!!!

๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t know how well I won, but I think it’s the winning part that counts.
Now to catch up on lost sleep ๐Ÿ™‚
(And later, on lost (/missing) posts)

On the joys of living in a small town

There was a festival in my town today. A whole street full of small market stalls in celebration of local root vegetables (!!). The butcher sold special sausages and other people sold various other things. I had a hot one when I arrived, and planned to buy a packet of raw sausages to take home, once I’d been round the rest of the market stalls. By the time I got back to the butcher’s stall, I was out of money. When I asked whether they’d continue selling them during the next week the saleslady said they’d freeze and sell whatever was left after the market, but wouldn’t be making any more until next year. Then she asked where I lived. I told her and she wrote a number on the back of a business card and handed it to me. The butcher is apparently based a couple of towns away, but the saleslady’s mother lives on my street. She’ll leave a packet here when she packs up, and I should phone her to arrange a collection time…

..Where else would that happen??

On keys (and castles)

According to a worn out proverb/saying/phrase, an Englishman’s home is his castle.

This English girl has a new Castle ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t have a moat, or even a pond*,ย but I do have a balcony (and a cellar). And 60 square metres of floor all to myself. (Wheeeeeeee!)

I signed the papers on Tuesday, got the keys on Friday, and have been gradually collecting furniture to put in it. (That’s a future post in it’s own right).

Not your typical castle door, I’ll have to get some decent black hinges organised ๐Ÿ™‚


I haven’t moved yet. The landlord has a few things he needs to change/mend/work on first, and since I had 2 exams at the weekend (yet another future post) and still need to sort out an electricity company, and wash the floor, and pick up some more shelves and a bed, and move all of my things, I can’t see that it’s a problem. After 3 1/2 years (or 4 depending on how you’re counting) I reckon a week here or there is mostly irrelevant.

*ย another post – there are so many things to write out of my head…


Hallo luffly peoples, I am going to try catching up on all your posts and comments and what-have-yous soon. Life’s a bit crazy at the moment, but I’m planning to have a more relaxed summer ๐Ÿ™‚

On sleeping in my car

Okay, so it was nothing like a Roxette song, but it was an adventure. There’s not much more freeing than packing your stuff into the back of your own car and driving into the sunset. And there’s not much more grown up than realising when you are really really tired and should stop to sleep instead of charging on towards a goal regardless of all danger..


Lorries, even sleeping lorries, are loud. Lorries full of animals are cruel at the best of times, but are especially cruel when they have to travel so far that there are overnight stops. Those animals are [understandably] even louder than the refrigerator lorries.

The rain, when it falls, is loud. The choice between fresh air and a wet car is difficult to make while half asleep.

The seats are only so long. I’m a fairly short person and my car is fairly big, but my feet spent a lot of the night trying to find something to rest on/against.

The sun comes up on its own terms. There are no curtains in a car. You can’t choose when to turn the lights on. You get what the weather fairy gives you.

There are many things which could be considered suboptimal.

But. None of them cancels out the sense of adventure and the feeling of being alive. In fact they add to it.

So would I do it again?

You bet!


On ice cream and no spoon

My younger self spent many (MANY) hours sitting on benches in various parks and town squares, eating icecream. Sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends, sometimes (and probably most often) with my siblings.

This was such a common occurrence, that we each kept an emergency spoon in our bags or wallets.

Yesterday I found myself alone in a new town, with a couple of hours to kill. It was incredibly warm, I had my luggage with me so I couldn’t do much easy sight seeing,  and to be honest, I really couldn’t be bothered to go anywhere or do anything. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing to spend time doing.

On the other hand, I hadn’t drunk anything since early in the morning, and dehydration isn’t fun. 

I walked from the train station to the nearest supermarket and looked at all the ice creams on offer. Then I remembered that I no longer carry my spoon with me.

It’s been years since I had opportunity to use it… That was extraordinarily upsetting. I don’t know how I let such an integral part of my identity slide so far without even realising it.

In the end, I bought a packet of mini-milks. They have wooden sticks and taste like walking home from school as a little kid.

That was an adequate substitute, but I intend to find my spoon when I get back, and put it back in its rightful place in my purse.