Thursday, 1 December 2011

A good night's sleep at last...Our new bed

As promised, here is the second instalment of our "bed challenge".  
When we waited nearly 3 months to unpack our container in our home, the thing I looked forward to the most was sleeping in our own bed. Our nice, comfy bed. But, after the bed was lifted through the balcony, through the spare bedroom, and into our bedroom, we realised we were going to have a problem... 
It was too high!!
Normal for us, but not quite normal for the German A-frame ceilings. 
We decided to test out our new bedroom with our current bed for a week or so to see if wasn't all that bed.  Let's just say, it was as if Arne and I were having a competition to see who could bump their head the most when getting in and out of bed - ouch!
After many nights of restless sleep, we decided it was time to buy a new bed, and put our lovely comfy SA bed into our spare bedroom - my mom will love it when she comes to visit in two weeks time! But I was sad to part with it.
This is when the next challenge began! Oh my gosh, beds are a whole different thing here - completely not what we are used to.  We've only ever known beds with either a base and a mattress, or a wooden frame and a mattress.  After many hours and Saturdays of shopping at bed and mattress outlets we finally realised we had to surrender to how things are done here. We were also quite shocked at the price of decent mattresses and bed frames. Take a really good mattress in SA and times the price by 3, you may come close to the prices here! Plus we had to find a bed that was really low down. We eventually opted for good mattresses, and a basic frame.
So, this is how it's done here...
Step 1 - another trip to Ikea, this time to buy a bed frame - thank goodness for station wagons
Step 2 - Build the bed frame

Step 3 - await delivery of mattresses, and...special slats, called 'Lattenrahmen'
Now, you're probably wondering "what's so different about this?"  Well, firstly, the slats come sperately from the frame so that you have more choice about what kind of slats you want.  Plus they come in two sets - like a His & Hers. You can choose the firmness/softness of the slats, how 'bendy' they are, and if you want them to lift at the head and at the feet - with a motor and remote control!  We had a lot of help from a great sales lady at this mattress place and if you look at their website you will see what I mean.  Matratzen Concord Since we bought our mattresses and slats from her we got a very good price; she was most helpful and kind.

Step 4 - Unpack and fit the Latternrahmen - we chose the basic ones.  We didn't feel the need to lift up our feet with a motorised contraption.

Here you can adjust the firmness by pushing in the rubber ends of the slats

Step 5 - Unpack and load on the mattresses. Yip, those too come in two parts.  
Keeping in line with the allergy-conscious side of things (like having no carpets), most mattresses have a removable, machine-washable cover, so we opted for those.
Arne fits the under mattress protector
Almost ready

Giant sheet to fit over the mattresses
Step 6 - A good night's sleep at last in our great big bed.

Before - bed height of 80cm where the ceiling slopes at 1m...
After - bed height (including mattress) of 40cm!
Horray, success!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The "Boiler Room"

Having been blessed with mild Winters in South Africa, central heating is a whole new world for me.  When I first saw the heating room/boiler room (not quite sure what the right word is) I was thrilled to see how much space we'd have to do our laundry. The washing machine fits in easily, and there is plenty of space to hang up clothes and linen after doing all the laundry marathons. Plus I have space for the ironing.  But then...
Stairs leading down to the basement where boiler room is
The basement

 The bolier room has a special fire-proof door.  Hmm, comforting, and yet...not so much.

I took one look at the heating equipment and thought OMG - I don't have an engineering degree! This looks like a room needed to operate a very intricate and complicated steam engine.  
I don't know the name of this, but it controls the central heating

A few more gauges, one's for water pressure, that I know
These gadgets and 'things' heat up the water we use to shower with, as well as the water used inside the radiators that heat up the house. 

The gas used to heat the water

The flame used to light the gas

 I like this label..."Close all water taps" ... when? why? or else?

 The gas comes from under the ground, so this is the emergency 'off' tap.

Basin required for water leakage, I think
Many pipes
 Ahh, the laundry.

Thank goodness for our friendly neighbours who helped Arne on our first night here, and showed him the basics on how to operate this thing.  Although it's a little scary not knowing how to operate all these knobs, dials, gauges and pipes, I decided for me that ignorance is bliss at this stage. 
The house is nice and warm inside, while outside temperatures drop below zero at night. I am pleased to report that I am much more comfortable and warmer watching tv in this winter, than I ever was in our Joburg house during winter - there I used to have all heaters going, gas and electric, and just could never warm up, eventually giving up and going to bed. Here I can actually watch tv in comfort - horray for central heating!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Where do I begin?

Sneak peek
Wow! It's been whole month since I lasted posted on blog.  This is just a sneak peek of what's been happening in our new home. I keep feeling like there's a mountain to climb to catch up on all that's been going on, so I've decided to start with a sneak peek, and climb the hill one little bit at a time. So here's a brief summary, to get the news going again. We have just been so busy, that I just haven't had the time to post - sorry! 
We got the keys at last, and moved into our new home on the 15th October - almost a month ago. We didn't  have the internet for a week before that, plus for two weeks after that. I realised just how precious the internet is, and wonder how I ever coped without it! I am please to report that we now have ultra high speed internet, and I'm enjoying it tremendously. The skype calls to to my mom and friends are a real lifeline that keep me going on the lonely or tough days. Moving countries can be quite stressful - but more on that another day.
All in all our move went well.  Here are a few pics of the moving-in day...
Our road

Our garage and garden gate
We prepared a "path" in the garden to avoid mud trails into the lounge.
View from spare bedroom balcony (neighbour's garden and across the street)

Beautiful sunrise
View from our bedroom window
Arne's excited face when we thought that was our truck...false alarm!
Wow - we only had 1 container when we left SA, but here are two!?
My work station, ticking off all 164 boxes off the list

The "Bed Challenge" Part 1
I say part 1, because this was only the first challenge of our long-awaited comfy bed from SA.  It wasn't a big deal though. The man in charge of the moving guys took one look at our staircase and said "Yes, it's a German staircase, we're going up the through the balcony", and within a tick all the guys were outside and the bed was in.  The next challenge came when we wanted to sleep that night, and then again when we decided to fix the problem...but you'll have to wait to hear about that :-) 

Not so clever, they packed our cd's in the shelves!
What next?
So all in all we've been pretty busy. But doing what? To sum it up, unpacking, shopping (for shelves, and more) building furniture, studying and writing a German test, attending German language school, Arne working really hard at his new job, figuring out how things work (like the heating, trash removal, insurance, buses and trains, etc.) finding a good grocery store in the area, doing washing and ironing marathons, unpacking some more and building even more furniture. We thought that when we moved into our own place our lives would be back to normal. But so far it has been far from normal!  A real topsy turvy last few weeks to say the least.  Hence I love getting emails and news, to hear about normal life and keep up to date with what's going on with my friends - miss u guys!   Things are going well and we are very happy in our new home. I have been reminded by quite a few people that "Rome wasn't built in a day" :-) We are very blessed, and every day I walk home I appreciate the beautiful surroundings and wonderful new adventure.
I have loads more to tell, but still plenty of sorting out around the house to do, including some laundry this evening and cooking (signs of normal life returning :-) So I will leave you with a few more pics, and promise to post again soon.
One of the many items my dear husband has been building - thank you!
One of many trips to Ikea
Excellent invention! Shoe-brush type front door mat
 Brilliant for getting dirt and sand off shoes before entering the house. If only we had this for the children at the school where I used to teach. A must!I haven't seen these until now though.
Horray! Veggies at last. A simple but nutritiuos home-cooked meal. These days we celebate the small things :-)