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Archive for May, 2011

So, Saturday the 21st of May, we arrived nervously at Fichtewiese.  I say nervously, as we had been told that all the laube community were meeting and that we would be introduced to them all and that we would each have to make a short speech about ourselves.  In German obviously…..  I had spent the whole week getting incredibly nervous and writing my speech in German.  I even got my German tutor to help me with it and to listen while a practiced!  Well, in the end, it wasn’t needed.   We were introduced and that was all.  No speech.  I was almost disappointed!

Everyone was really nice and very kind and friendly.  We got keys to the place and were told that our little laube was ready and waiting for us to take it over.  I was so excited!  Here’s the first picture of it.

First Picture of the Laube

Isn’t it great?  Our lovely, elderly, nearest neighbour, Ruth, told us that the house was built in 1953, (how appropriate for two rockabillies)!  We also met one of our other neighbours…..  Ricky the Racoon……

Ricky the Raccoon

He looks adorable, but don’t be fooled….  He is VERY naughty indeed!  He sneaks into people’s kitchens and eats all their food, he will even rip open cool bags to get food.  He is also not shy of people at all and wanders around Fichtewiese as if he owns it!  I do think he’s very funny, but I’m not sure I will after he’s stolen or damaged my stuff……

Since we got the keys, we have spent the last six days finding out just what condition the little house is in.  It’s not good.  The place has been empty for 4-5 years, but even before that, it wasn’t well looked after.  The roof had been patched up over the years and so had the floor.  With the result that the roof had caved in, so water had been coming in to the house for a long time…..

Caved in roof

Everything was damp and rotten.  Robert was very brave, (BIG spiders) and ripped out what was once a fitted roll-out bed.  It was completely soaking wet.  We began to get very worried about the condition of the house and just how much money we will have to spend.  Robert did find something really lovely though.  An original 50′s/60′s portable record player.  We couldn’t believe it, as he has been looking for one to buy for ages.  This one is even powered by batteries.  He’s going to take it to be refurbished.

Robert & the record player

Record player

Well, over the last few days, Robert has ripped out the false ceiling, the inside walls and the numerous layers of floor coverings, (including a final layer of 1950′s linoleum, sadly in such a bad condition it couldn’t be saved).  So we are now down to the bare bones of the house.  It needs a complete new roof and a partial replacement of the floor…..  But we’ve hired someone to do the major work…..  More to come soon!  I leave you with some pictures of how beautiful it is there.

Our laube & Fichtewiese

Our laube & part of Fichtewiese, taken from the pond area.

Sailboat on the River Havel

A sailing boat on the River Havel, which is 4 minutes walk from our laube.

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Waiting….

I moved to Berlin in Germany, back in June 2010 from London.  This last year has been a big learning curve for me.  New home, new language, new culture, new country!  I’ve learnt, and continue to learn, many things about Germany and German culture.  Something I came across fairly early on, was the Laube communities.

These are usually fairly small areas of plots of land, which you can rent and use to cultivate fruit, vegetables, flowers, etc.  The plot always includes a Garden House, which you can turn into a mini home from home.

As I had moved from a house with a large garden, to a 2nd floor flat in Central Berlin, I missed my lovely English garden.  Whilst we have a fantastic south-facing balcony, it’s not the same – I miss being able to run barefoot in grass…..

Last summer, some friends of ours, Olivia and Christian, managed to apply for and get a Laube.  The Laube community they joined was one with a difference though.  Fichteweise Community is within a nature reserve next to The Havel River, west of Central Berlin.  Here, you are not encouraged to grow things.  They want to leave the area to be natural.  So, no gardening, just enjoying the environment and nature.  I loved the sound of this.  We visited Olivia and Christian and we both loved it even more.  Very rural location, peaceful (the day we visited, you could hear woodpeckers in the trees), right next to the River Havel with a big sandy beach and a restaurant 5 minutes walk from the community.  No electricity, no water supply.  Christian very kindly showed us around the community area, which turned out to be really big.  He even showed us Garden Houses which he knew to be available.  I picked one out and……

We decided to apply.  I wrote our application letter to the Community’s Committee and my partner Robert, translated it into German.  I then spent a whole afternoon looking through pictures of us, to try and find one to send with the application which didn’t show Robert’s tattoos or showed us holding booze, or tipsy!  That was tricky….  Anyway, we sent our application off and the next thing we knew, we were invited to attend an interview!

On the day of the interview, I was calm, but Robert not so….  We were invited to a lovely house in the outskirts of south Berlin.  We had to sit infront of the whole committee and explain why we wanted to have a Laube at Fichtewiese.  You think that would be easy, but it was all in German…..  So I did lots of smiling and nodding and Robert did lots of talking!

Well, we got accepted!  They also approved of the little Garden House we had chosen.  It needs HUGE amounts of work.  I’ll be posting pics soon.

Hillbilly Shack 

But this gives you an idea of what it looks like at the moment!

 

So now we are waiting.  This Saturday we get the keys and meet the rest of the community.  I’ve decided to write a little speech in German to read out to them, just to say hello and explain how rubbish my Deutsch is!

So, more to come soon…..!

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