It is, all of a sudden, cold. There is something exhilarating about the swift change of season. We swapped lapping up the sun in Berlin parks for scraping ice off the windscreen at 7:30 in the morning. The trees are swiftly turning gold, and I drive through wreaths of mist to get to work. All week, the afternoons have been shiny-bright, and at the kindergarten we’ve been making the most of them, bundling up the babbies in layer after layer and spending hours outside. On Friday we had an impromptu outdoor disco. One my co-workers, sitting on a grassy slope with a babbie on her lap (the babbies she’s responsible for are too old for extensive cuddling and lap-sitting, but she usually steals one of mine), watching the rest of us bounce about and flail our arms, said: ‘this is really quite a good job, isn’t it’. And I had to agree.
The best things we brought back from Berlin were two hot water bottles Michael asked his parents to buy for us. They have little blue and red fleece suits, and they are great. Soft and furry and warm, they feel exactly like kitties curled up under our duvet. I keep expecting them to bite my toes.
Aside from that, we’ve been looking at houses. We’ve seen so many houses. And so many reasons for leaving. Old people moving to smaller apartments, young families needing an extra bedroom because a third (or a sixth) child is on the way, a messy divorce, people who bit off more than they could chew in terms of the renovations required, people climbing the property market, and people falling off it – there was at least one case of insolvency. One house was a little spooky and rather sad – the deceased estate of a teacher, with gifts from her grandchildren still on the walls.
Every single house seems to have a fatal flaw. They’re a bit like people. Last week we fell madly in love with a house out in the countryside with amazing views and a balcony flooded with sun, but we decided we’d feel lonely out there, and as we only have one car and cannot sensibly afford another, commuting to work in opposite directions could prove a big problem, especially in winter, when the car is prone to dying at short notice. Topping the list at the moment is a funny little house that looks like a shoe box, or, more precicely, a lego man’s shoe, perched precariously half way up a rocky outcrop, with stunning views of the town and the fortress and the harbour. We haven’t seen inside yet, but wandered up there last night. A full, flat moon hovered above the fortress as though on purpose. The problem with this one is access – you have to park at the bottom of a slope, and clamber up a steep narrow driveway. This isn’t a problem in summer, but in winter we might need spiked shoes and an icepick.