We have now been settled in Paderborn since the end of August and in general it has been good fun so far. Our house is ENORMOUS in comparison to all our previous military quarters with a cellar big enough to accommodate a family of five and more bedrooms than we know what to do with. This has its benefits in that we can have lots of people to stay but does mean that I feel like I am constantly cleaning. The bathrooms and kitchen in particular are a cleanliness nightmare due to having white floor AND wall tiles – as soon as the floor has been cleaned it appears to be dirty again! Last week we had our nephews to stay (aged 6 & 8) and I have now had a glimpse into my future as mother of a little boy…… my unborn son WILL be trained to lift the toilet seat and not pee all over the floor, the rest of the toilet and the surrounding area! I am still struggling to get the bathroom back to its white, clean gorgeousness!
Over the last two months I have begun to compile a mental list of things I love about my new home and things that I find utterly infuriating and I thought I would share them to see if these are normal annoyances or just related to my pregnancy ‘rage’ hormones. Germany is a fantastic country to live in with loads of beautiful places to visit but is also a rule-ridden society that takes a while to get used to!
Amazing things I love about Germany (in no particular order)
- The weather! Whilst today it is raining it doesn’t seem to do so half as much as it does in the South West of England. I am looking forward to colder winters (with lovely snow) and warmer summers (where I can actually use my new garden furniture)
- Skiing! My nearest ski resort is only an hour away so I am looking forward to getting back on my skis ASAP. This probably won’t happen this winter due to me being due to drop in February but you never know……
- Kaffee and Kuchen – a legitimate meal that can be taken at pretty much any point of the day and that generally involves the most amazing cream laden cakes. My mouth is watering at the very thought and I am wishing that I had bought something at the supermarket for this afternoon……
- Hot Chocolate – sooooo much better than in the UK.
- The local market – in the UK we have labelled them as ‘farmer’s markets’ yet here they are the normal market for the locals. The selection of meat, fruit and veg and flowers is something to behold and takes place 10 minutes walk from my house twice a week.
- The winter boots – because the weather is so much colder here the boot selection is truly something to behold……
- Haribo! Quite possibly the widest selection of Haribo sweets I have seen can be found in one aisle of my local supermarket. As this is one of my pregnancy cravings I am in heaven!
- The recycling – we are slowly catching up in the UK but are still way behind the curve as Germany have been manically recycling for years. Our general household waste has gone down immensely as we have a bin for plastic & tin foil (incl. cling film!), one for paper and cardboard and one for food waste all of which have roadside collections. Whilst I do know that all of this stuff can be recycled in the UK I find myself much more able to stay on top of it when I don’t have to be constantly driving to the tip.
- Plastic bags (or the lack of them) – you can’t get plastic bags in most places (incl. the supermarket) and I think that this is brilliant. I generally always have a small shopping bag stashed in my handbag and therefore don’t have the world’s supply of plastic bags taking up space in my house as I did in the UK. Why can’t we do this in England!!!!
- Sunday Shopping (or the lack of it) – I think it’s really good that the shops are closed on a Sunday as it makes it a day for chilling out with family. Whilst I am not saying I have never been shopping on a Sunday I do think it is a shame that the UK has become quite so obsessed with shopping and being to buy things 7 days a week. Here, we have to be organised and go shopping on Saturday for anything we might need before Monday.
- Freshness of supermarket foods – because the German’s are not quite such liberal users of pesticides etc as we are the food sold in the shops does not generally last as long as it might in the UK. This means that instead of doing one big weekly shop I go a couple of times a week and as a result I am noticing less food waste and therefore a bit more money in my pocket!
- German hospitals – I will be having my baby in Germany and so far it looks very wonderful. I will give birth in a specific Obs and Gynae hospital which is well equipped with birthing pools etc and where I will eventually share a room with just one other person. I will then be kept in for up to five days to ensure that I, and the baby, are doing okay and during which I will be helped with breastfeeding and all the other little bits I am not going to have a clue about! Whilst I think the NHS is an amazing resource I have also seen first hand how over-stretched maternity units are and so I feel very privileged to have this opportunity to give birth in what is effectively a private hospital where the nurses will have the time to help me get to grips with my new role as a mum.
- The funfairs that come to town – reasonably priced and you get a decent amount of time on each ride (unlike in the UK where you pay £5 and get 1 minute)
- The forthcoming Christmas market – so excited!!!
- Recycling bottles at the supermarket and getting money back for them – last week I received €6 for two crates of glass mineral water bottles.
Things I am not so keen on…..
- The crazy priority road system – on my first drive in the our new chelsea tractor I was furious when someone shot out of a little road ahead of me and then gave me the evils. I now understand that it was in fact their right of way which I still find utterly bizarre. Thankfully, having now done my BFG driving test (and passed with flying colours!) I haven’t had any more near misses…..
- Being told off by the postman – on our first morning in our new house the doorbell rang. “Is this you?” said a very officious looking postman holding a piece of mail addressed to me. “Yes” I replied. “I cannot deliver it if your name isn’t on your doorbell and letterbox” replied scary postman. REALLY???? I presume that this means people staying with us for longer amounts of time cannot have things sent to them unless they put our name? Our name is now beautifully written on both our doorbell and our letter box and I haven’t been told off again…..
- The fact that people can buy their own speed cameras, sit in their driveways zapping people and receive revenue from them!!!
- Not being allowed to hang my washing up in my own garden on a Sunday. Apparently, it is okay if you have a baby so from now on I will be including one random baby grow in my washing if I need to get it done on a Sunday.
- The fact that the NAAFI (basically where we go to get our extortionately priced British bits and bobs) doesn’t get Heat magazine until the very end of the week. Don’t they understand that I have a Tuesday ritual!!!!
So it seems that overall I like living here (or I haven’t remembered any more negatives…) I am gradually getting used to not working full-time and am joining committees left, right and centre just to keep myself occupied. I am also trying to enjoy this down time before baby boy arrives in February and life changes forever…….