Thursday, May 26, 2016

Almost completely moved

It's well-known that moving can be one of the most stressful events in life and if I hadn't known it before, May would have proved it. Especially during the week before last, during which I had several meltdowns a day and one full-on panic attack. Let's hope that's something that doesn't happen again.

At least I did manage do get away for my week in Ireland. Up until the day before I had almost decided I'd have to cancel. It was a busy week of rushing around but I did start it with lunch with someone I especially wanted to see, followed by a float and a massage before picking my brother up to come and stay in my sister's (dinner was roast chicken, wasn't hard to tempt him). And ended very similarly, with a float followed by lunch with friends and, finally, an entire afternoon to myself. I walked along a beach and then sat on the rocks for over an hour, just doing nothing and not even particularly thinking much.

When I flew back on Tuesday evening, I ended up having to go back to Dusseldorf, as the letting agents wanted to have a pre-handover meeting to check the condition of the apartment. So I spent the morning scrubbing paint off the bathroom floor and cleaning doors and windows. It went ok so I really hope I might be able to get the handover done next week. It'd be great to just have it all done and finished with.

I came down to Heidelberg then yesterday evening and for the first time, slept in my new home. It felt good. It's a quiet area, although I seem to have a neighbour who's fond of loud music in the evenings. Once inside with the doors closed, however, you can't really hear it anymore.

I woke up very early this morning, a little disoriented as I had lowered the shutters before going to bed and it was still almost pitch dark but I didn't know if it was day or night. Nice change from constant light from outside, mind you. I might try sleeping with the shutter up tonight and see how that is.

At any rate, it was just after six when I woke and when I pulled up the shutters I got to enjoy the sunrise. Not something I often do.

I was awake for a couple of hours, reading and enjoying the view. So happy to be back near some hills again. Eventually I dozed again and then I got up and unpacked a couple of boxes in the kitchen, read a bit more, dozed again, unpacked my suitcase. I didn't do the one thing I actually wanted to do today, which was get the WiFi and phone set up but I think I need a few days of little activity and little physical stress. I've really been pushing myself a bit too much so it's time to step back and let my mind and my body recover for a while.

I went to the lovely restaurant across the road for a delicious dinner and then had a walk after that. And now I've been sitting on my balcony, watching the last of the sunset. All in all, it has been a good day. Once I'm finished with the stress of Dusseldorf for good, I'll be very glad. I think I'm going to like living here.

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, May 09, 2016

I have too much stuff

It feels like I may never be finished packing but the movers are coming tomorrow morning at eight so I have to be finished before then. I suspect I may be having another late night tonight. I'm nearly at a stage where I have one room (the bedroom) completely finished, which means I can start shifting boxes in there. That moves those boxes out of the way of the few cupboards in the sitting room that aren't quite finished yet. And then it's the bit I've been dreading, the large built in, stuffed to the gills, cupboards in the hallway. If I don't quite have the kitchen packed up it's not the end of the world as I'd be able to finish it in the morning while the movers start on everything else. Since I'm on the 4th floor and there's no lift, they'll be taking a while to get everything down. But the hall cupboards are right beside the front door so they absolutely must be emptied before they start.

I went through most of my jars at the weekend. Any of those which were just empty jars of bought foodstuffs (friends used to donate them to me, it all got a bit out of hand) have been deposited in the bottle bank. I've only kept the ones I actually bought - the glass is defintely tougher and, to be honest, most of what I want to do involves actually processing the jars in a water bath so they need to be proper canning jars. I do still have quite a lot of chutney and jams but since I didn't make any at all last year, and very little the year before, anything I do have is a few years old at this stage. Much as it pains me to do it, I'm trying to be at least a little bit ruthless and keep telling myself "new beginnings, new beginnings, new beginnings". So, I've decided to dump the contents of anything left and just bring the cleaned jars. That's work, of course, but a friend is coming over this evening to help so I think I'll set her to that task. People have been very good about offering to help but I find it very difficult to let people be at my stuff and so much has to be sorted first that it's hard to find things where I can just say "pack that, please". My poor sister was over for a few days visit, planned long before I ever knew I'd be moving so she didn't exactly have a relaxing holiday. I'm so glad she was here though, I'm not sure I'd have been able to do it without her and I'm very certain I'd be far closer to being a complete basket case if she hadn't kept me going the last few days. She left yesterday so now I just need to get finished. And when I'm in Ireland in two weeks I'll return the favour, as she'll be moving house then. No rest for the wicked...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I'm off...

It took a while but in the last few weeks all of a sudden I started getting invitations to interviews. Had six lined up over the course of two weeks! And then the first one was the charm - I was invited to a second interview a week later and it turned out they didn't so much want to interview me as they just wanted to offer me the job. Contingent on me spending a couple of hours there that afternoon just to make sure that I was happy and comfortable with the person I'll be mostly working under. Because, hold on to your hats, I've found somewhere to work where they attach great importance to the chemistry between people being good! I wasn't sure that existed in Germany! Hang on, that's worth more than one exclamation point I think!!!!!

So, now it's all go. The sensible thing to do would have been to wait and go to all my other interviews this week but I was very enthusiastic about this job after the first interview - the place, the tasks, the people and the type of graduate program I'll be supporting (sustainabililty-related! - I'm not going to name it though as it's quite specific and I like to cling to the notion that I'm still not completely identifiable from this blog. Quaint, some people might call that.)

I did go for one interview at my local university before I got this offer and haven't heard back yet but to be honest, I wasn't 100% certain about the professor I would have been working for. He seemed nice but also seemed like he could easily wear more than one face and I've learned to be careful about people like that. At any rate, I'm thrilled with the job I've gotten and only one other that I was called for interview for was similarly interesting and that would have involved either a long commute or a move to a town that's not particularly attractive. I cancelled that interview and instead, I will shortly be moving to this lovely place....
This is obviously one of the nicest views and there are parts of the town that are just as grey and horrible as any town but look...hills!

So even though the job I've gotten is only a part-time job (20 hours a week, increasing to 30 hours a week next year if they get funding) and is restricted to two years (so I have two years to try and wangle things to get a permanent position - something not at all easy to do in the public sector), it feels so right that I am going for it. I've already put out feelers to a recruitment agency in the area and am feeling very positive at the moment. That changes hourly though. At the moment I'm feeling pretty good because I had an unexpected but very welcome request via the National Association of Translators on Saturday which led to a nice bit of work on Monday and yesterday. Tough job but I think I did alright. Am just waiting for some feedback from the agency now and hoping that they were satisfied with it. It was a job just the other side of my comfort zone but when I got down to it it wasn't too bad, I think. Would be great to have made another contact that might lead to work every now and again.

Another aspect of working for the public service means that things can take a while. They would like me to start as soon as possible but it will probably take at least four weeks for the contract to go through all of the various departments and councils it has to go through. Still, starting mid-May or the beginning of June is very, very short notice in Germany. Bear in mind that if I hadn't already left my job and was just handing in my notice now, I wouldn't be free to start work anywhere else until the end of September and even if I would have been able to negotiate an earlier release from my contract, it would have been at least a few months.

The entire country seems to be predicated on a three-month cycle though, which means that although I did the sensible thing and left my job first (although that might work against me when I'm trying to find a new place to live and can't show income slips from an employer for the last few months), everything else now has to be worked on pronto. I've been trawling the websites looking for an apartment and have managed to arrange two appointments for Friday. Really hoping one of those is suitable and works out. I have to give three months notice on my place here, which means paying rent here until July. I'm really hoping that if I can find someone to take my place one, they'll let me out of my lease earlier. Need to phone now and find out. And organise to move. And cancel a million and one other things. I started making a list and it already covers one and a half A4 pages. Some things are just a change of address but some are things that have to be cancelled. Most are three-month cancellation policies but may have exceptions if you're leaving the state (which I will be) so I have a whole lot of paperwork ahead of me.

I may end up not blogging much at all over the next couple of months or I may end up blogging multiple times a day. It really could go either way. I'm excited and so happy to be feeling this level of enthusiasm for something though. Heidelberg here I come!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


There are so many things I could say about Ireland and 1916 but, as always, I'm not organised enough to have properly gathered my thoughts. Particularly since, as with so many things to do with the place I'm from, those thoughts tend to be full of conflict and paradox.

At any rate, I know some who read this blog are interested in all things Irish and I thought you might like to watch Centenary. I've only watched a small amount so far but it looks and sounds great. And it certainly got rave reviews all over twitter last night when it took place. It's available now on the RTE player, but only for a month so if you'd like to see it, click before 27 April. Hopefully that link works. If not just google RTE player and type Centenary into the search box. I suspect it may become the top viewed programme for the next while so it shouldn't be too difficult to find. Enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2016


It's funny writing in my tracking notebook and seeing that it is already day 9 of my blood sugar diet adventures. That means it's also day 9 of having managed to go for a walk every single day. Just as I planned to do starting in November as soon as I had finished work. But I've recovered from work enough now that I really do seem to be able to just get up and head out, without it requiring too much of a mental workout to get me there.

This morning I didn't really want to get up and was thinking I'd have a nice lazy morning and early afternoon in bed reading and then go for a walk in the late afternoon. For no particular reason, however, I checked the weather forecast. High likelihood of rain all day. Oh. So I checked the rain radar app on my phone and saw that within about three-quarters of an hour of so, pretty persistent rain was going to start. Instead of telling myself I'd go for a walk in the rain, I just got up and went straight away. I figured I'd get most of the way to the halfway point before it started and would be really glad once I got home. It did rain a bit on the way back but wasn't too bad and I really am glad that I've already done it. Apart from about half-an-hour of sunshine a little while ago it has been a very grey, drizzly and miserable day and it is lovely to be tucked up at home. I've lit a few candles and am bundled up in a cosy cardigan. Because I wanted to get out and beat the rain, I didn't eat so I was ravenous by the time I got home. I made vegetable soup yesterday and had a huge portion of that, with two eggs poached to perfection in it. It was just right.

This week will be a slightly different one as I have an interview in Heidelberg on Thursday so I'll be on the move all day. I'm thinking that I'll bring a big salad with me for lunch. I can leave a bag in a locker at the train station and pick it up after my interview. That way I could also bring my walking boots and get a walk in before heading back. Around the town and maybe up to the castle.

Apart from the obvious benefits of the exercise, I've always loved walking as an aid to pounding out whatever thoughts are circling in my head. Sometimes I might not be thinking about anything much but eventually whatever it is that's particularly on my mind will surface and I can get to grips with it a bit. It's so wonderful to have this time to do that without having to stress about only having an hour before I need to be doing whatever other thing is next. I am spending the best part of my day cooking, eating and walking at the moment but it feels good.

I'm using the mapmywalk app on my phone to keep track of how far I'm walking. At the moment I'm just focusing on that and not deliberately trying to increase my speed. They send an email with a summary of workout every week and this was the first time that I got an email with more than one or two walks. In fact, I'm even missing one from this summary as I forgot to switch on the app when I was walking home from the quiz on Friday. I had decided to make that my short walk day so just had the slightly more than 2km walk home, since I was running late and didn't manage to also walk there earlier in the evening. Other than that, here's what I did do from 20 to 26 March:

Total length of time: 11:39 (I pause the app when I stop for a break so this is just time spent actually walking)
Total distance: 50.1km

I'm really pleased with that. Long may it continue. Every day I manage to stick to the diet and every day I manage to go for a walk, is a day closer to the person I want to be.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday shopping

A post not about BSDing and it's a boring shopping one. Don't worry, I'll find other things to ramble about soon I'm sure. Obsessing a little is helping me keep on track at the moment so I'm going with it. Luckily for me, if your eyes are glazing over at this stage, I can't see it and can continue on in happy obliviousness. :)

I had four things on my list when I headed out this morning and bought six. Not too bad. One of those two items was a packet of lentil for the storecupboard and the other some fish, as it turned out the supermarket was doing 50% off all fresh fish today. For this month and next, while I'll do my best to stick to my usual regional, organic, fairtrade, sustainable methods of choosing groceries, price will have to play a bigger role. I've been mostly avoiding fish for a while now, as it's such an environmental minefield. I did get some tins of tuna and sardines to stock up the storecupboard a while back but that has been about it. But for the duration of the BSD at least, I'll have to be a bit less discerning - when all is said and done, fish is a very good source of relatively low-calorie protein. I'm also trying to make sure that I have plenty of variety at the moment, which isn't something that's always at the top of my priority list.

Today, I even managed to remember to bring my empty bottles with me so after a quick stop at the bottle bank for the non-deposit ones, I continued on to the market.

I had taken €20 out of the bank and had 64c to put into my sealed pot and 50c for my 50c pot when I got back. For that, I got the following:

From Bio Thees
Oakleaf lettuce, 2 small heads (312g @ €10/kg): 3.12 (but the round down so only paid 3.10)
Red lambs' lettuce (100g @ €22/kg): 2.20

From Naturhof Etzold
Onions (1kg at €3.50/kg): 3.50

From SuperBIOMarkt
2 tins cannellini beans (€1.49 each): 2.98
1 packet yellow split peas, not lentils after all, I picked up the wrong packet. Sigh. (€4.98/kg): 2.49
Refund of 30c for two returned bottles

From Kaisers supermarket
2 salmon fillets (416g. normal price €19.90, today €9.95/kg): 4.14
250g butter: 75c
Refund of 30c for two returned bottles

I've already left the salmon poaching, will have a small bit now perhaps and them have the rest cold tomorrow or Monday.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Blood sugar diet - day 6

Going well so far but just wanted to post a short note about last night in case it happens again. After going to bed I was really cold. Shivery cold. I had my normal nightdress on with a fleece over it as I'd been sitting working until late and was a bit chilly anyway. And my hat, of course. I kind of miss my hat when the weather gets too warm to wear it. Anyway, all of that wasn't enough so I pulled a blanket (folded double) over the duvet. I was still cold. I even got up to check whether the temperature outside had sunk low unexpectedly but it hadn't and was hovering around the 8 degree mark. I was worried I had a fever but my temperature was normal (35.8, which is normal for me, I usually hover between 35.9 and 36.1 according to my current digital thermometer). I added a shawl around my shoulders and that seemed to finally do the trick but it was all a bit strange really.

I don't know if any of these things are at all related to the BSD but I'm going to continue making a note of them. It could be that I'm just noticing things because I'm trying to pay a bit more attention to my body. I'm currently trying to figure out if I'm finding it easier to get up in the mornings. Today, I think it was, despite the grey murky day outside. I'm so grateful that I almost never have to set an alarm at the moment. I've definitely been waking a bit earlier over the last couple of weeks so I don't think it's just down to the diet, the brightness is helping, too. But this morning I didn't lie around for long and, more importantly, once I did get up that was it. I almost (but not quite) sprang out of bed and once I had gone to the toilet, didn't even for a second contemplate going back to bed. I had some work to do but still, that's unusual for me, even if I have something to do I'd usually have at least a couple of minutes of pondering whether or not I could get away with another few minutes in bed. Wow, me becoming one of those people who just gets up and that's it? That's weirder than everything else for sure.