Working our way around Europe, being very frugal, living like a local, interacting almost exclusively with each local population, and being prepared to be a bit inconvenienced at times was always firmly in our minds.
Deborah's temporary office nook
We knew when we left Australia in December and then the comfort of the family home in Norfolk, England (that we have been using as our European base), we would need to maintain a good sense of humour and the ability to live in flow.
Also, if we were going to have this long-planned trip work out well and since Europe is not exactly a budget location for travel, we’d need to find ways to stretch the euros — hence the working along the way scheme. So far, so good.
So — alright already!!! I’m living in a very noisy flow!!! And here is exactly where I am sitting as I write this post — on a white plastic garden chair in the corner of our temporary kitchen.
Here in Berlin, in addition to having a wonderful time seeing this gorgeous city, we are helping our friend Stefan to renovate the house that he has purchased and which he hopes to be moving into in 4 weeks time. Fingers are firmly crossed on that one right now because most of the house still looks like a bomb site!
This will be a beautiful place once it is complete since the rooms are spacious and there is so much light flooding in from the front and back.
It’s the traditional European style of construction — thick masonry block walls covered with brick or render on the outside and hard plaster on the inside. And it is spread out over 5 levels. You’d never guess from the outside (which looks just fine!) what is going on within. So here below is a little peek at what will need to get resolved in the next few weeks if Stefan is going to move in as planned. CLICK on the photos to enlarge.
Rubble in one of the bedrooms
Mark checking the stability of a crumbling wall
Mark and Stefan discussing the renovation
Crumbling door frame
Crumbling entry door area
I am listening to a house FULL of contractors right now — the 2 or 3 electricians, the 2 plasterers, and the 3 heating contractors plus my husband Mark. All of the hard surfaces that this house is constructed of just echo any noise again and again.
It was a little bizarre to be sound asleep at 8:30 this morning with earplugs in and hear 3 voices open the door and say, “Ooops!” I kept my eyes shut tight, they closed the door, and I raced to the bathroom to quickly put some clothes and wash my hair in the sink (with not very warm water) before they turned off all of the water to move the pipes around before installing the new radiators.
We’ve had 2 days of very cloudy weather and the solar panels are not getting enough charge to heat the water in the huge tank up to nice-and-hot. Hence the lukewarm showers and hair washing. However, Mark has had instructions today in the art of oil-furnace back-up water heating. Sheesh!!! It’s quite an interesting contraption!
Right now I can hear normal drills, electrical sanders, trowels against hard plaster, the tapping of chisels, a hammer drill, and hammers — not to mention the sound of heavy feet as those fellows clunk their way up and down the stairs to all 5 levels of the house. I have my orange earplugs in, too!!! The whole house is vibrating with sounds and it’s making my heart race quite a bit.
At least at night it is beautifully peaceful and we sleep well. The neighbourhood is incredibly silent once darkness falls. A temporary small ‘apartment’ has been created out of 3 rooms up on the top floor and that’s where we are living for now.
We eat dinner, have a bath in the huge bathtub (not pictured), and then cuddle up side-by-side to watch a movie. Fortunately I have enough movies and British television shows in my computer to keep us occupied since there isn’t enough light in the bedroom to read by.
Late today the electricians are doing the final-fix (at least I hope that they are!) of the outlets and then perhaps we can have some lamps on in the evening instead of just one lamp and some tealight candles.
But at least it’s atmospheric with the candlelight. We are very relaxed once everyone leaves and we certainly have a sense of humour about it all!
Temporary bedroom setup
Blue bathroom - partially crumbling bu functional