Tomorrow I leave for Heidelberg. For the moment it's a very abstract thought. I'm not sure what will happen during my time in Germany. I know I'll be speaking German and I know that any culture shocks I do experience will be rather small. Will I be eating Brötchen instead of toast and sandwiches? Will I be cooking more meals from fresh meat (rather than frozen that is)? Will I even get the chance to hike? Will I find Russian too hard? I just...can't picture it. Before starting at Aberystwyth I had all kinds of preconceptions of Uni life, but I can't get a clear picture of that kind of life at a German University.
So I'd rather muse on the kinds of things that happened during the longest Summer of my life.
I was back in time for Christian Aid week, so I was a collector. Part way through that week Mum and Dad went to Rome so I was left on my own to run the house. I didn't feel lonely though 'cos an hour or 2 every afternoon was spent chatting to Nathan on Skype. Out of the entire Summer, May was the quietest month by far. I couldn't exactly see my friends I'd left behind, they had exams :(. Except June who had finished the year slightly before I did. :)
The thing that bounced May was my trip to Paris. It confirmed I had work awaiting me in August. So one thing that stares at me right in the face is this fact: I have never before had such varied types of work in such a short space of time and I'm unlikely to experience such a variety again. Here's the list of the job roles I did: litter-picker, waittress (divided into table-waiter and runner), hospitality staff, camp counselor, conference kitchen assistant and I served the workers' buffet. I also finally learned what Silver Service actually means: it's the style of waiting where the tables are set up poshly (done that) but the food is served directly by the waiter, carrying the hot plate of either potatoes or vegetables and serving onto the customer's plate. I've been on the receiving end of such service but never done such things myself.
It was also this Summer that I discovered more of London than I had ever before in my entire life. When I went to see June's monologue performance in May, I had to go to Little Venice. When I went to Paris I had to go to St Pancras. When litter-picking I was expected at Epsom Downs: the furthest point of South London's Zone 6 (seriously, I'd never been there before). When attending the recruitment session of TSS, I had to go to Holborn (a very beautiful part of London). On that same day I had to go to Embankment Pier to attend the 'interview' for Prestige People. And to make sure I was on time for the Prestige transport to Liverpool/Southport I had to go to St John's Wood (very posh area). And when June and I met up at Aldgate East, I actually had to wait a while for her, so I explored the surrounding area-quite a lot of it actually. Later the same day we went to Islington to see Hancock. The nice area was a change from Aldgate. And when I went to Liverpool to do my job for Telligo I walked between Euston and St Pancras. Eerily quiet on a Saturday morning, let me tell you. And when June, Eleanor and I spent an entire Bank Holiday out-and-about I found myself at...that area where Waterloo Bridge is. I'm sorry but I've forgotten the name. And for lunch we took Eleanor to Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Covent Garden. That area I had first seen the week before. The area around London Bridge where I had to walk along to get to the studio where the rock band was playing. And finally, here are the places TSS sent me: Bank (that's right, I had never been above ground there)...I actually don't know the names of the other 2 areas. They were all in business areas anyway, I had never seen so many and such impressive corporate skyscrapers and mansions. And I thought Canary Wharf was cool. Oh and how could I forget my first ever visit to London City Airport? A small, very efficient airport that was easy to get to and serves wonderful scrambled eggs (it's obviously a restaurant that does it). Unfortunately Dad's suitcase managed to get lost in there but considering the only explanation was that it fell off the belt it could've happened in any airport.
It was also in the middle of this month I learned some lessons about property, courtesy of the family experiences in Nathan's (and Ernie's) flat. When you buy a property, you'll naturally find it empty, so the cheapest way to fill it with furniture is by buying DIY. The cheapest of which can normally be found in Ikea (that was not where they found the beds). The first lesson is to build the bed last. (Or perhaps that should've been second?) Constructing a bed takes up as much room as the bed, a wardrobe needs 2 or 3 times the space it stands in. The bedside cabinet even needs space to lie down in and more. So another lesson is to hire a van so that you can drive back as much furniture as possible (but beds are always best delivered by truck drivers). After Nathan's bed was made, we had trouble building his desk. The finished product tucked rather neatly into a corner, but building it needed the room of the bed itself (btw Nathan has a double bed). So what did we do? We ended up putting some pieces together on the bed itself. So when we got round to building wardrobes and a chest of drawers we built the frames in another room first and then carried them into Nathan's room, where we finished them off. Which leads me to lesson number 3. Read through the DIY manual/booklet before starting the building because the various construction steps are not always in the sensible order. For the double wardrobe, the booklet said to put in the shelf after screwing on the doors. That made the shelf much more difficult to put in. For best results, attach the doors after putting in the shelf and anything else.
Rule number 4 is that when it comes to constructing chairs, it's best to have 2 people (but then, that's the rule with most DIY furniture). Chairs also tend to be quickest to do. Rule number 5: you need 3 people when it comes to constructing anything with glass. Rule number 6: curtains solve everything. Seriously. If you need a cheap way of providing privacy in either a bathroom or between rooms, it's much simpler to get a screw-in curtain rail and attach a curtain. (It'll obviously do nothing for noise.) And the seventh lesson: know what you're going to do with your waste cardboard. The estate that Nathan will be living in for the next bunch of years does have its own skip(s) and recycling stands but in Manchester you can only recycle waste cardboard in special depots. If we'd known that from the beginning we could have better organised our cardboard heaps and how to move them.