On putting my money where my mouth is

Time is apparently money.

After paying for school, and exams, and normal urgent-life-requirements like food, electricity and water bills, and prebooking holidays, and biscuits, I tend to have more month than money left over. As a result, non-urgent things tend to be pushed into the list of things-to-buy-one-day. Things like new sandals, or matresses, especially when the old ones are still more-or-less functional.

On Tuesday evening, however, I was finally forced to spend money on something I’ve been ignoring for a while…

…new toothbrush heads for my electric toothbrush (and DB’s). I bought a huge multipack a few years ago, and we’ve only recently run out. Last night we established the fact that the box of spares was well and truly empty, and I agreed to get online and order new ones.

It appears there was a very good offer on, last time I bought them, or I was so wealthy back then it didn’t register properly (which I doubt).

Why are those things so crazily expensive?!

I agree that teeth are important, and realise that dentistry is a whole lot more expensive, but heck, no one can buy the things at full price, surely! In the end* I found a dealer with a fairly good offer if you buy in bulk (“in bulk” being 16 in this case). That should last us a couple of years – and give me time to save up for the next lot! 😉

* It took me the best of an hour. Which would increase the price of the toothbrush heads considerably if I had to pay myself…. maybe I need to rethink my ideas of saving money…

On buying problems in a wine bottle

I lugged my suitcase up the steps and onto the train and breathed out – unaware that I’d even been holding my breath..

Looking around, it became apparent that I’d landed in the first class carriage. I would have to wrangle my suitcase and an unwieldy bag of picture frames* through the restaurant car and past the private cabins, but at least I was on the train.

***

The station had been full of people walking slowly, and I’d got stuck behind a deaf couple going just fast enough to make it hard to overtake without bashing someone.

They were too busy signing with each other to notice me, and since asking them to either hurry up or let me through was a hopeless case, I tried not to think about the time, and instead concentrated on not ramming them with my luggage.

The train was already there and the platform was mostly empty by the time I’d made my way up the escalator. Luckily.

I ran, or stumbled, unhindered (except by myself) along the platform and hurled myself at an unblocked door.

***

The train left before I’d had a chance to find a seat. I lurched forwards, trying not to fall on anyone, and still panting from running along the platform.

I asked the first person sitting by themselves if the seat next to them was free and flopped into place as they moved over to the window seat.

After getting [most of] my breath back, I checked my phone, told DB I’d caught the train ok, repositioned the picture frames so that they weren’t poking my legs more than necessary and took out the biscuit tin.

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One of the guys at the meeting on Saturday had provided 3 tins of Christmas biscuits and since we hadn’t eaten them all yet, they were offered to whoever wanted them.

It’s still a bit early for Christmas biscuits, but they are good ones, and they are easy to eat on trains so I volunteered to take one of the tins off their hands :).

Anyway. It’s a little bit rude to eat biscuits by oneself, even if you don’t know your neighbours, so I turned to the window-seat-man and offered him the tin. He looked a little bit lot perplexed, but ate one regardless. 🙂

Then he reached down into his bag and produced a slim black tin which he presented me..

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For some reason I first thought it must be cigars, but it turned out to be chocolates – “from Dubai”, he said casually, as if everyone carried excess tins of Dubai chocolates with them**..

A surprisingly interesting conversation ensued – he’s an on-call pilot for a rich Russian bloke with a private jet and a string of inportant worldwide business meetings (hence the chocolates from Dubai ;)) – and I was a bit disappointed that he was changing trains after only a couple of stops.

As the train pulled up to his station, he started gathering his stuff together. A coat, a suitcase, a laptop bag….and a very large cardboard box.

“That’s a bottle of wine. A very big bottle of wine. A huge bottle. I bought it in Italy and it’s the reason I’m on the train. I usually fly home, but I wasn’t allowed to take it on the plane! Taking liquid on my bosses plane is ok, but not on passenger machines… I should have known that I wasn’t buying wine, I was buying problems in a bottle!”

And with that, a smile and a wave, he was gone, leaving me with a small black tin of chocolates and a story for my travel collection – and a post! 🙂

* Three were almost exactly what I’d been looking for, for a project I’m working on, two were simple and colourful and would go well on my wall. And besides, they weren’t very expensive and I don’t go shopping much ;).

** If they do, can someone tell me why I knew nothing about it?

On walking not driving

DB isn’t a natural walker. He says his legs are too short. He’d rather drive. I used to walk or cycle all over the place when I lived by myself, but since moving here I have allowed myself to become lazy.

Naja, as a by-product of my many problems and consequent doctors’ visits, we have taken up walking round the ‘village’* every other evening. Recently we’ve been increasing the distance. I’m finally learning my way round, and it’s nice to be more mobile, especially when the weather’s so good.

This afternoon we did something very strange.

We walked to the supermarket.

It’s a good half hour’s walk from our house, and we’ve never walked there before. I have by myself, but never together. Still, there’s a first time for [almost] everything….

After buying more than was on our list, and more than fit in our bag, we set off towards his parents’ house; DB with a bulging rucksack and me hugging a box of goodies and swinging a litre tub of rice pudding. It’s not exactly en route, but we needed to talk to them anyway and there was a good chance of getting a coffee.

The old men on the corner “fell off their religion” as they say here. They couldn’t believe DB was walking of his own free will. They asked if the car had broken down, or if we couldn’t find anywhere to park.

“Times change” said DB and shrugged.

200 metres later, the next incredulous onlooker asked what was going on.

It seems DB is well known, but not as a walker.

We drank our respective teas and coffees, and ate our biscuits, and looked at the fish.

When we got up to leave, DB’s mother asked if we wanted a lift back.

Anyone would think we lived more than 10 minutes away…..

*our part of Berlin…

On swans and water policemen

When I think of November weather, my first thought is “grey” followed by cold, fog, drizzle, wind and rain.

Today is the 2nd of November. It was 17 degrees (C ). The sky was blue and practically cloud free. DB and I went out in the boat.

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View from the shore

There aren’t many more enjoyable ways to spend a Sunday than going out on a lake at the beginning of November. In shirt sleaves.

Just as we were leaving one lake and heading for the next, we were called to a halt by a policeman. Our number plates are at home in the garage, not on the boat. He charged us 35€ for the privilege  and we were free to carry on with the trip.

We met up with DB’s parents in their boat for lunch. This swan came to join us. We fed her the last half breadbun. DB’s mum told us off for wasting the breadbun and said we should have fed her the biscuits instead..

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"Let her eat biscuits"

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who would rather feed swans biscuits than bread.

As it turned out, she hung around long enough to get the biscuits as well 🙂

On the days between Thanksgiving and Advent. ..

(I had this idea on Thursday while working out what to do with my Hauskreis and started thinking this post on Friday. I didn’t get it down on screen paper until today.)

imageThanksgiving is about being thankful for what you have and Advent is waiting for the things you want… or need or don’t have.

I have a LOT of things, people and events to be thankful for right now, and a lot to look forward to next year.

Advent itself is also already full of things which are [hopefully] going to happen. Since getting on the train I’ve written a list of all the things I need to do and/or pack before Christmas. I covered 3 sides of A4 and had to stop before I had a breakdown because I ran out of paper (the 4th side was used up before I started).

So that’s Thanksgiving and Advent sorted, but what are the 2 days in between for?

I think ‘just being’ is as good a thing as any.

I spent just under 48 hours in Berlin, during which I made a huge lasagne, helped DB make and decorate 4 trays of biscuits, went shopping twice, picked DB’s folks up from their cruise, visited them, made and hung up 24 chocolate-and-nut-filled serviette-bags (DB’s Advent calendar), and generally dossed in a comfortable sort of way.