Saturday 5 September 2009

Dr Who?

Tenants. Who'd have 'em?

Today I've been running around after one of the tenants. Somehow he'd managed to fly to the USofA on an out of date passport. They let him in but they won't let him out. Which seems a funny way of going about it. Perhaps thats the approach all illegal immigrants should take. So I've had a continuous flow of calls from his mum, dad and sister as we tried to find a spare set of keys to the flat so that sister could go in and find his proper passport and FedEx it to him. They're all very grateful of course, but in these days of terrorists plotting to blow us up left right and centre, I'd love to know how you can travel half way round the world with an out of date form of identity. The same way I guess that when we flew to Germany, unthinkingly I had in my hand luggage a large bottle of sun tan lotion, after shave, toothpaste and deodorant. We sauntered through security at Stanstead, but the hyper efficient Germans at Munich wouldn't let me fly back with it as it wasn't in one of those see-through plastic bags - they must be very clever if they manage to stop an explosion.

Other tenant adventures having been rung up in the middle of the night once. "We've got no electricity" "Oh dear - have you looked in the fuse box?" "That's fine" "Oh, erm, erm" "There's no electricity anywhere" "You mean there's a power cut?" "Yes. We thought you could ring the electricity company and find out when it will come back on" "Feck off"


"My bicycle has been stolen" "Oh no - the flat has been broken into?" "No it was downstairs, outside." "Erm, oh. Was it locked?" "No" "Feck off"


"The heating's not working" "Oh dear, do you know if the boiler is switched on?" "Yes, its on" "I'll come round and have a look". When there, I look at the radiators "They're turned off" "Yes we did that for the summer". "You're an idiot"

Or even:

"Whenever we use the washing machine it fills up with foam" "How much detergent do you use?" "About four cups or five cups" "Have you ever done any washing before?"

and indeed:

"We've got no hot water" "Is the hot water switch turned on?" "No it's in the off position" "Oh really"


"There's no bed in the flat" "You specified you wanted it unfurnished so we took the bed away." "I know, but I want a bed" "Feck off"

And oh so many more....

Thursday 3 September 2009

Skeletons in the cupboard

I wanted to write about how rubbish Homebase is, but as I'm still fuming, I'm going to leave it until I've calmed down. By which stage I probably won't care.

Instead, here's a picture of the contents of the cupboards of our kitchen. There are two Maggies, a Ronnie and a Diana. If you're the first to find them, I'll send you one of the bottles of wine. Unless you're Grandma in Cyprus, in which case I'll bring it.

Monday 31 August 2009


A totally, self-indulgent post....sorry! but I kind of wrote it as I went along...

From Wikipedia:

The Oberjoch Pass (1178 m) is a mountain pass in the Allgäuer Alpen just one kilometre west of the Austrian border. Between 1938 and 1945 the pass was caled "Adolf-Hitler-Pass".


The day started a little earlier than planned due to usual restlessness I feel when staying in hotels. Our first challenge was to find the car rental office which had eluded us the day before. We scoured Bahnhofplatz top to bottom to no avail. A call was ignored so we asked in the toursit information office. With a wry smile he directed us to an office above platform 20. The girl behind the counter politely told us that yes thank you they knew the address on the web site was wrong. Inglorious basterds.

I sent a text to a friend across the other side of the globe. The reply I got was "what time is it over there?" 30 times I've had that now and still counting but like echoes in a cave or ripples in a pond when a pebble is dropped, with less frequency...12 hours later.

The boy and I have been having boyish giggles at the thought of going up to a chip vendor and saying. "Frites" to get the reply, "No my names is Hans". "yes Hans fritz". Well it makes us hasn't actually happened. Yet.

Our journey to Oberjoch was lovely, even the detour was easily accomplished. An enormous traffic queue was caused by a helicopter landing on the road. We were both reminded of our mortality, as the bike the rider was on lay in pieces. At least he may have been alive as they don't send air ambulances to pick up the dead.

I shed a tear as we reached Oberjoch. A place I hadn't been to for 30 years, and one for which I retain a deep, deep affection. The hotel hasn't changed from when I worked here. There are still photos from the 1930's with swastikas flying outside the building and references to Adolf Hitlers visits. The boy and I smiled. An embarassed smile I think.

Tomorrow we conquer the Iseler.


We did indeed conquer some things today. And one of them was the Iseler. A mountain that 30 years ago I regularly bounded up like a mountain goat. In recent years I've struggled with heights, and so as the boy's levels of excitement increased as we neared the summmit, so did my levels of terror. In temperatures nearing 30 degrees I was still breaking out in a cold sweat. But a strange thing happened on ce we were at the top; all my fears disappeared completely, and I was able to bounce down the muntain with a smile on my face. Having got half way down we did re-ascend in search of an elusive mountain path much to the amazement of other hikers who clearly put us in the mad dogs and Englishmen category. Perhaps we should have said we are in training for the Olympics.

For some reason we are attracting Professors here. Up the mountain we chatted to a professor of agricultural sciences, and last night our meal was shared with a professor of physics and astronomy. Due to a slight misunderstanding he has gone away thinking that a torn ligament is simply known as a torn. My apologies, it could have been much worse. Enough of academia, tomorrow a mad prince


Today we travelled to the second of my places of employment in Bavaria. The Braustuberl in Hohenschwangau. There are also a couple of castles there - Neuscwanstein featured quite heavily in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Truth be told my memory of my time here first time round is a little hazy as beer was consumed from eight in the morning til three in the morning. I believe a good time was had by all; apart from the eels which were illegally fished from the lake and then dispatched with ammonia. Times haven't changed - we gathered three of the Irish workers had left this mornning after a particularly hard party the night before. We had sausages and chips from the Braustuberl whilst the rain poured down around us. Alpine storms are spectacular and well worth experiencing. i think the boy was pleased to see where I worked, to walk up the mountain and see round the castle. I know he loves his Bayrishe hat with feather that we bought - we went in every shop to make sure we got the right one.


Something new today...a gorge outside Oberstdorf. Stunning. Just stunning. As indeed was the pebble beach alongside the river where walkers had built hundreds of cairns from one foot high to upwards of six. It was as if the gnomes dancing at night had been caught by the sunrise and turned to stone. We added our own.


Postcard writing day. But only if we can remember your address. Sorry Grandma in Cyprus you are in our thoughts, but we can never remember the address so we'll send yours when we're back in Blighty.

Thirty years ago I would climb the Hirsch Alpe, lie down and snooze in the afternoon sun. And get woken by a kiss from a cow. The boy was delighted when the cows seemed to want to continue the tradition. Very friendly indeed.

I also have to contemplate the value of the boy seeing his father in abject terror as we negotiated some fairly easy mountain paths.It's the vertigo thing again which puzzles and frustrates...I can see it's safe and all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other. But absolute panic ensues and the feeling of nausea is immense. The boy is very helpful and supportive which is appreciated more than he'll ever know. I'm determined not to allow it to stop me scaling new peaks.


We thought we'd go to another village, where I'd swam in the lake a long time ago, butit's a bit more developed so we just kept driving to Reutte, on to the Plansee, then to Oberamegau (the play's not 'til next year)and ended up at Schloss Linderhof - small but perfectly formed. We returned to the hotel, not knowing where we'd sleep, as we'd been told there wasn't a room for us (some confusion in the bookings. Over a glass of a potent burning schnapps, a room was found.


The clouds came down, the rain poured and we bade our fairwells, drove to Munich. The question is if Dad and son walk into a shop and both see a leather jacket they really, really like, who should get it. Father and son require a different size. Perhaps they should buy one each?


The English Garden - not sure an Oompah band playing away whilst everyone eats sausages and saukaraut and drinks weisse beer is very English. Absolutely sure that naked people in the middle of a public par playing volley ball is not English at all.

We arrived home, late, very late tired, but elated after I relived my history, and the boy discovered a new country. I hope he likes it as much as I did and still do. He certainly likes his new hat.

If you fancy popping round to see the our holiday pics, you're welcome...we took over 900 of them, so come well equipped.