On unexpected guests


A friend from a place I used to work is coming over for the weekend. She had some kind of conference during the week and added a few days holiday since she was here. We’d planned to meet in the city and do touristy things and were working out the details. And then she told me that she was planning to sleep here.

It’s a good thing shocked silences don’t show via text. ๐Ÿ™‚

As is to be expected, I spent the next couple of days cleaning and tidying up, making space for the blow up bed and generally making the place presentable.


I picked my cleaning sponge up out of the bath to wipe the sink down..

I’m not a screamer, but I came close.

I’m not at all used to finding leeches in the bathtub. I’m not sure if it is definitely a leech, but I don’t know what else it could be. It’s black, about 7 cm long, kind of flat, maybe 5 mm across, has suction pads at both ends, can climb vertical flat surfaces and is very shy.

I had no idea what to do with it but I didn’t want to kill it or wash it down the plug hole so I put it in a plant pot with a splash of water.

Vermicious knidish question mark

It didn’t approve of the water.

Within seconds, it had climbed out of the pot and was hiding underneath it.

I went to work, leaving it hiding under the flowerpot.


My colleague thought it was hilarious when I told him about it. Our lunch break was immediately filled with stories about leech infested jungles and “would you rather..?” questions. (‘bungee’ jumping in Vanuatu* is generally our baseline. In this case I think it’s a close call, I really really don’t fancy either option, but I would probably be ok with letting leeches bite me if I was in some kind of medical emergency, whereas I can’t imagine any situation when I would want to jump).

Even the pressing explanation of how to get photos off his phone and onto the computer was willingly postponed because “bathroom leeches are more important, the photos can wait. You can tell me about them on Monday…unless you have more stories about leeches – they obviously have priority!”

* YouTube is only sometimes your friend..

On perfect partners and other dance teacher wisdom

9th May

“There aren’t any perfect partners. If you spend the evening looking and waiting for one you will go home without having danced at all. Also, don’t try to force your dance partner to dance exactly the way you want to dance. They won’t enjoy themselves and you’ll be frustrated when it doesn’t work. Instead, when you dance, focus on offering yourself and your style and asking the other person for theirs, both of you will change your dance to fit both of you and it will be a fantastic experience. If you do that, it won’t be long before you can dance with everyone, and everyone will want to dance with you. Just like life. Dancing is like living. Life is like dancing. It’s all the same thing really.”

After a week or so of people deciding to remove themselves from my life, this is a good thing to hear.

On being a Jesstrich

My latest health tests resulted in me being handed two mostly conflicting sheets of what to eat and what to avoid. I think once I strip my diet of everything on both avoid sheets I’m left with brown rice and possibly carrots*.

When I got home, hungry after a breakfast-free morning, I opened a packet of chocolate digestives and buried my head in the crumbs. Or rather, the crumbs in my head. When I was finished I washed them down with half a pint of milk.

Wheat? Check.

Big oats? Check.

Sugar? Check.

Chocolate? Check.

Milk? Check.

Things I enjoy eating? Check.

Carrots? Not a trace.


But anyway, digestive biscuits are good for digestion, right?


* Yes, I’m exaggerating. But not as much as I’d like to..

On being early, late and on time all at once

April 17th, somehow delayed publication..

Yesterday, my colleague announced that due to unforseen private circumstances he was extending his Easter holiday and having today off as well. No problem. He asked me to water the plants. No problem. He told me which bits of glass to give various customers. Again, no problem. And then this:

“..The company XYZ is coming to do some work on ABC. They’re due to be here around 8 so you should be in the workshop from 7:30 in case they’re early…”*


I’m barely awake at 7:30 on a normal day.

I have a problem with mornings. I don’t often function properly before most people are starting their first coffee break at work.

I luckily have flexible working hours. I roll in well after my colleague and stay later in the evening. That means not only can I sleep that much longer in the mornings, the workshop is also open for more hours per day and keeps our owl-customers happy.


This morning I awoke to the sound of a band being run over by a reversing lorry**

I stumbled in and out of the shower in a blurry haze and decided to take breakfast with me. My fish got less attention than usual and I didn’t pay any attention at all to things like plants or airing and squeegeeing the bathroom.. When my landlord caught me on the way out, wanting to talk to me about dustbins I excused myself as soon as it was polite to (or possibly earlier). I even cycled slightly faster than usual.

Despite my best efforts, I didn’t get to work until almost 7:40.

That turned out to be ok through, because despite visions of eager workers having to wait for me to open the door and let them get on with whatever needed doing, they didn’t actually arrive until gone 8..

Ho hum.

Still, at least I know I can get to work early(ish) if I need to…

*As ridiculous as that sounds, this is Germany. They could legitimately come early.

** My alarm clock: A CD plays for a few minutes until it’s interru…BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Just like that. Hideous noise. I keep it at the other side of my room, which guarantees that I at least get out of bed to turn it off. I’m still working on not going back to bed once it’s quiet again.

On being blasted by the past (and loving it)

Last night I went dancing. I’ve only been once since I moved north to Berlin. Way back when I lived in the south, I used to go regularly, sometimes twice a week. I had visions of still being as good as I once was.. In reality I was hopeless. At least until I stopped thinking and just danced. My feet know what they’re supposed to be doing far better than my head does. Still rusty, but more-or-less in working order. There will probably be a post about it soon. The teacher said dancing wasn’t so much about leading and following, as about inviting and accepting. Like a host and their guests. Sometimes the guests request things, sometimes the host suggests.


Last week I phoned a glass joining expert. We write occasionally but we don’t yak – just the things we need to know condensed into a few sentences. This time we talked. That makes a huge difference. We talked about the glass project I might be taking on, and also about his new self-employed status. We discussed all kinds of things and I’ve been invited to go and see his new workshop after Easter. He’s so happy to be his own boss – his voice is full of smiles and non stuck-up pride. I am so thankful it all worked out for him.


I’ve been having quite a lot of health issues lately. Nothing serious, just persistent and annoying. I’ve decided to take all woes to a lady who deals with people as a whole instead of a heap of parts. She asked me for my medical history. I have a memory like a sieve – almost everything pours through leaving me with a mess of song lyrics and little-kid book plots. I phoned my various doctors asking them to send me a copy of their notes and test results and x rays etc. Most of them need me to pick up in person, the only one willing to give it to a person of my choosing was the one furthest away, but within walking distance of a friend’s house – a friend who moved there after I’d left, and who I see once a year, tops. The secretary was fantastic, as was (/is) my friend. He picked up my notes and posted them on. Heroic really, considering he was on holiday with his partner and probably had better things to do. Reading through my notes was horrifying – I didn’t remember most of the things I’d needed treatment for until I read about them..


On Wednesday I got an email from a colleague from the place I used to work. We were friendly but not especially close. I left 5 years ago and I haven’t seen, heard from or even thought about her more than a couple of times since. She’s going to be in Berlin soon and wants to meet up. I’m quite excited about seeing her and finding out what’s been happening in her life. It seems there’s been quite a lot of change.


I am going to a glassblowing thing soon and it’s being held near (= within a radius of less than 100km) where a couple of friends from glassblowing school now live. I’ve kept in contact with both of them but due to distance and various clashing calendars I haven’t seen one of them in years and the other possibly once a year on average. I wrote to both to say that I’d be in the area and we’re all going to get together for the afternoon after the do. I can’t say how much I’m looking forward to that. I have no words.


I logged onto Facebook today for the first time in forever. I had a handful of messages from people I haven’t spoken to in a long time, including one from a glassblower I look up to immensely, asking when I’ll be where, and which meetings I’m attending because there are so much glass-related things to talk about (and so little time)…I’d promised to phone about a hundred years ago and hadn’t. If you’re the least bit creative there are always a million reasons not to phone and I am pretty good at making up stories/excuses. I apologised and he forgave and I feel much better about seeing him in person at the meeting after next. All the awkward is out of the way – we can get on with the interesting stuff.

There were also a few messages from a school friend I haven’t seen or heard from in close to 16 years. We quickly migrated onto a chat program and conversation flowed effortlessly, despite, or maybe because of, the time we have to catch up on.


None of these things are technically related.. And yet, they kind of all are. I feel loved and appreciated and like there is a life not only beyond work and my house, but also wrapped up in the day-to-day stuff you don’t always pay attention to. Some things require you to ask for something, some need you to accept something. Sometimes you’re the host and sometimes the guest. Almost all the things were easier to do than to think about.


On top of all that, it’s sunny and getting warmer and my mood is mostly a lot better than it’s been in ages and it feels like time to come out of hibernation.

I think I like spring ๐Ÿ™‚

On living round a Dahlien* invasion

Once upon a time, when my kitchen was still a kitchen and I still had a kitchen floor, I went half-price seed shopping with my mother.

Mid February I had an unexpected free evening and an unopened bag of compost. I sowed liberally.

Despite being clearance stock, every seed germinated..

And since I’m not as heartless as I need to be I potted them all on..

..and rearranged the balcony to make space for them..

And then Winter came back to laugh at me, so I brought them all in again.

I feel like I’m beginning to understand the Duke of York better these days.. ;p

Can whoever controls the temperature please make sure we don’t get any more frost? It would be nice to be able to use the entirety of my floor…

Also, if anyone wants a dahlia or seven (or a tray of Livingstone Daisies) I’ve got a couple spare ๐Ÿ™‚

*The Germans call dahlias Dahlien ๐Ÿ˜‰

On the creation of a domestic Goddess

I recently bought a second hand copy of Nigella Lawson’s book, “How to be a domestic goddess”.

I haven’t read it yet.


‘Obviously’ because I am so far away from becoming a domestic goddess it’s not even funny. If I was going to be eligible for any kind of goddess title, ‘domestic’ would come pretty far down the list. I bought it because I liked Feast (another of her books) and because it has a whole section of chocolatey recipes – it’s still lent so I might as well read about chocolate if I’m not going to eat it.

Life’s been a bit crazy since then and I haven’t had time to sit down with it.

This evening, after being spending the day being domestic (!) I settled down in front of the aquarium, dinner resting on my lap, book resting on the arm of my favourite chair, ready to enjoy both. Halfway through the first paragraph of the preface I decided that my dinner was incredibly bland and that I needed herbs or spices or something to wake it up a bit.

(I was eating on the sofa in front of the aquarium because the most ginormous amaryllis is taking up most of the table and 47000 baby plants are taking up most of the floor in the kitchen. And also because that’s my favourite place to eat if I’m by myself :)).

I put my dinner on the cupboard, put the book on the –


My dinner landed on the floor before my book landed on the beanbag.

“Oh bother” said Jesska.

“If only I hadn’t” said Jesska.

Good thing I made double, really.

Doubly good that I put the half I was going to eat in a bowl before bringing it into the sitting room. The other half was still in the kitchen and therefore still edible.

Bonus good thing? Cleaning up the mess meant I washed some of the floor, something I’d noticed needed doing while vacuuming this morning, but decided against..

Maybe this goddessing lark is achieved best by accident.



And so as not to waste it, here’s some of the post I was originally planning to write today:

On the first day she was invited to dinner.

On the second day she was invited to cook dinner for someone else at their house.

On the third day she ate leftovers.

On the fourth day she ate beans out of the saucepan and watched the fish.

On the fifth and sixth days she zapped home made microwave meals.

On seventh day she… Writing this in my head as I balanced the umpteenth plastic box on my draining rack, I’d planned to finish this sentence with “..washed up.” as a kind of triumphant/embarrassing declaration of my level of housewifery and as a sort of Jessish version of the creation of the world. It was a busy week of long days and late dinners and I was mostly happy to survive, eat and fall into bed in one piece. Washing up wasn’t high on my priority list. Until today when I ran out of clean cutlery.

However, now that I’m actually writing, that line, while still true, is no longer post-worthy.

Instead, I have to change it to this:

On the seventh day she threw her dinner on the floor.


Although that’s not even vaguely accurate. I didn’t throw it. I didn’t even drop it. I placed it. Slowly. I would like to say carefully but I don’t think anyone would believe that. On the grounds that the torch I use for catching artemia (not pictured – I started clearing up before I thought about taking a photo) landed in between the pasta shells and under the mat, I’m going to assume I put the the edge of the mat down on top of the torch instead of the cupboard whereupon the whole thing rolled slowly, viking boat style, off the edge of the cupboard before tipping itself onto the floor.


On eating beans on toast

The other day I heated a tin of beans, laid the table, toasted some slightly stale bread, took a lump of cheese out of the fridge, the grater out of the drawer and sat down to beans on toast.

As I poured the beans onto my toast I was suddenly reminded of the post I wrote last year about eating them out of the saucepan. This time I hadn’t even considered it. I hadn’t thought about it and made an conscious effort to use a plate, it honestly hadn’t crossed my mind until afterwards. I’d laid out a plate and a knife and fork without thinking about it or having to wash them up first. (The saucepan was clean before I started too ;)).

I was eating off a plate. At a table. With a tablecloth and placemats and flowers. By myself – I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. The counter was mostly empty, as was the sink and the drying rack. The floor between the radiator and the balcony doors was clear, except for the recycling bottles and a couple of projects in boxes. The old newspapers were stacked in a single wooden box, ready to wrap up the peelings when I next cook properly, instead of threatening to invade.

This, I think, is a good marker of how far I’ve come over the last few months. The recent beans day wasn’t an especially ‘good’ day, it was just a day, possibly one of the less-good days, seeing as I was eating beans instead of cooking.

My house is in no way magazine-perfect, but I was able to let my landlord in at short notice when he needed to replace the batteries in the anti-mould windows, and to let him send a repairman for the towel rail while I wasn’t here.

It is staying tidy for longer between the chaos-attacks. Things mostly have a home. I wash up directly after breakfast most days. I actually have breakfast most days! I’m starting to put things onto the small-ads app and get rid of them instead of piling them up to think about ‘later’.

I still have stay-in-bed-and-stare-into-space days/mornings, I still have a few days a month where nothing works and I come home and cry about it, I still have illogical spiralling thoughts, I still have days when lifting a jug of water or walking up a flight of stairs is about the limit of my strength, but I don’t sink as far or stay there as long.

I blame the vitamin D tablets.

And possibly the generous tax return ๐Ÿ™‚

And the fish.

And the cycling.

And Frank Turner’s songs.

And H’s many cupboards and shelves and hung-up-pictures-and-mirrors-and-notice-boards.

But especially the D tablets. As long as I don’t forget to take them, them they work small miracles in my life (or perhaps give me the ability to work them in my own life). I am so so so grateful for my obgyn and her non-obgyn-stuff-related diagnosis and the bloodtest and the easy way to feel better about everything.

Here’s to more plate-days! ๐Ÿ™‚

On late night loo roll hunting (and locks)

Occasionally I think I’m getting the hang of this adulting lark.

This week, for instance, I consistently got to work an hour (or more) earlier than the week before (and most of last year if I’m honest). It meant making a huge effort to go to bed early and actually getting up when the alarm went off, and I also left my phone in the kitchen to avoid the one-eyed scrolling my mornings so often started with.

That’s pretty responsible right?

I even dressed up and went to a grownup classical concert yesterday afternoon, one of only a handful of under-70s in the place, not counting the orchester, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed the hour or three I spent wandering around Berlin in the dark, meandering past and through shops and along highstreets, looking at lots of the things I don’t want to buy and a few I feel I should think about before buying. I came home with a stack of tea towels. Can’t get much more exciting than that, really.

I went shopping on the way back from the station and came home, ready for a posh hot chocolate and an early night.

So far so good.

I realised, at gone 9pm on a Saturday night, that the last loo roll was very unlikely to last until Monday morning. I promptly changed my going out boots for more sensible cycling shoes, put my high vis vest on over my going out coat, took my helmet and saddle bag off their respective hooks and headed supermarketwards…


…without my keys.


So much for responsibility and proper adulting.

Time to call my landlord.

He didn’t respond the first time I tried.

The staircase isn’t particularly warm or comfortable, but I figured it was warmer and more comfortable than the yard, so I abandoned all plans of going shopping (and besides, who needs loo roll when there’s no loo?!). In my head I went through all the people I could feasibly phone and ask for a bed and how I was going to get there (I can climb over a gate, I’m pretty sure I can’t get my bike over one). Thinking about it now, since I’d locked the front door behind me as I’d come in, I was stuck in the stairwell between my door and the house door and wouldn’t have been able to get into the yard anyway – or to anyone else’s house.

I tried again. This time he luckily decided to answer and I was brought the key and could rescue mine.


I made it to the shop on time for a record breaking (for me) whizz round and stood at the checkout at one minute to ten.

By the time I got home I’d forgotten all about the posh hot chocolate and fell into bed with a hot water bottle instead.

And that was the end of another eventful day.


P. S. It seems I haven’t changed much..

This is a post from almost exactly 6 years ago about late night loo roll shopping. And just to round things off, this is a post from a year and a half ago about locking myself out.

On finding a common denominator

Question: What do the following items have in common?

A hand powered mixer

A box of gravy thickening powder

A mop head

A trangia (camping cooker with stacking saucepans)

A laptop

A hand powered ‘vacuum’ /carpet sweeper

A tape measure


No prizes, but perhaps I’ll give the guessers an honourable mention in the next post..