Happy teabags and houses

I’m in a country, I should tell you, where the teabag labels have writing on them giving you essential life advice. Only yesterday, for example, a teabag informed me that if I was true to myself, happiness would follow. The sunset which accompanied this particular cup of tea was quite stunning, which certainly helped.

I haven’t really gone into tremendous detail as yet as to my current living arrangements, what with all the other exciting things I have had to talk about. But now that the English quest for footballing glory is over, I can return back to the main topic of the blog at the moment, that of the actual living in Germany.

I’ve always wanted to live in a foreign country on a more permanent basis than just holidaying. I think it is a decent way to get a deeper look at the the differences in life and culture and, well, other things you can only observe through immersion. Admittedly I’ve not gone so far as to get an actual job (I continue to believe that as I don’t speak German I am largely unemployable, a stance I think is pretty good), but other than that, everything else is in place.

I live in a small village, which follows an incredibly arcane calendar of life, with festivals happening willy nilly, and all sorts of traditional stuff happening. It is a bit too traditional for the people I live with to actually participate in, but it’s nice to know that it’s out there, should I wish to partake. I have heard rumours that the established veterans of the village believe the house I live in to be some kind of hippie commune. This is not true, although I’m not sure adding one non-German speaking dreadlocked English person who appears to do nothing all day to the mix has entirely helped.

The house itself is a fairly ramshackle affair. For a village which is full of old houses, mostly of the “build them from mud and wood” architecture period, it is to say something that this is one of the oldest houses in the village. Nothing really aligns. There are a lot of low wooden beams. The attic room we sleep in is probably not a legal dwelling place. The staircase / ladder that you have to climb to access it will probably be the death of me one dark night when I try to find the loo down it. A bucket by the bed is rapidly being thought of as a serious option. It is, all in all, a lovely abode to reside within.

Many of the houses in the area were built in a time when people survived off the land rather than from the nearest supermarket, so the doorways are large enough to fit a horse and carriage through, and the outbuildings, which have since been converted, used to house stock. One of the chaps lives in the former pigsty. He has improved it somewhat since those times which I am reassured were long ago. The central part of the house is a large grassy courtyard with a lot of outdoor covered seating area, and then right at the back is, for want of a better term, a barn. This is mostly used as a giant bicycle storage space (the space is large, the bicycles are standard sized), and the cats (more on them to come) find plenty of scratching posts within.

The people we live with of course warrant a mention, and are a varied mix. There are seven of them in total, including my girlfriend. This mix is constructed of three guys and four girls. A happy equation. Some of them are fairly young, and still attending college. One studies Nietzsche, which I believe may be slowly killing her. Others are established with their careers, doing that careery type thing that is supposed to be good for us, what with the security and the pension and the other things we should probably have.

The inhabitants of the house are all very nice to me, although as the ability to speak English is varied, some of the relationships are slow to build. I could probably make more effort to learn German, but my language skills are fairly poor. I struggle to make sense in English a lot of the time. However, having demonstrated my abilities with a frisbee in a lake, I believe all is going to come together nicely.

There are also two cats, who since our arrival and a strict dieting regime, have become ever so slightly less tubby. Although one would by no means be ready to refer to them as slimline as yet. They are called Paochino and Hase. The former means little bun in Portugese, the irony of the name not being lost on me, the latter is actually the German name for rabbit. She was originally found on the street and was named thus because if you give a creature you find on the street an actual cute name, you may end up wanting to keep said creature rather than doing the sensible thing and taking it to a rescue home. Since she has been here for over five years, this tactic was perhaps not entirely foolproof. She is still called rabbit though. Paochino only has one eye, presumably the other was lost gloriously in battle somewhere.

Days are spent as days often are. Either walking or cycling in the surrounding areas, enjoying the sun, a swim in the lake or playing backgammon. There is a hint of Swallows and Amazons to the whole thing, minus the boats. From time to time more serious excursions are undertaken to see key cultural locales, such as pubs or castles. This weekend I believe we are off to visit Holland for a period, and perhaps wander along a beach. There we have it therefore. What life currently looks like. All in all, pretty good :)

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