It's amazing how much random life flotsam you can acquire over a few months, isn't it?
When Oli and I first arrived in Berlin with two large suitcases and a couple of kilos of hand luggage, we barely had anything to decorate our 20m square room in the heart of Friedrichshain. We've since moved across the city into our own place, and found ourselves carrying a whole lot more than we originally arrived with.
We still don't have much to call our own in our small, half-decorated apartment (which I prefer to think of as 'shabby-chic taken to it's logical conclusion'). However, unlike the vast amount of crap we ditched back in Cardiff, I think the few possessions we have collected over our four months here provide some choice snippets of our Berlin story so far.
Veuve Clicquot bottle - empty
My mum has always told me that she has champagne tastes on lemonade money, and this has never been more evident than the time she rocked up to the swank hotel on our doorstep and promptly settled in with a bottle of the finest bubbly available. The five of us sat talking and laughing on her balcony and polished the whole thing off in under half an hour, and for one short night Oli and I were able to drown our financial sorrows in a vat of crisp, fruity fizz, and temporarily forget about the fact that we probably wouldn't able to pay our rent that month...
Q: What does one do when one moves into a semi-furnished flat with zero disposable income or creative nous to expend on jazzing the place up?
A: Forgo the deposit on the last few crates of beer you bought at the Getrankemarkt, of course! Plonk said crates in a corner, whack a couple of pieces of scrap wood on top and finish with a 1.99EUR Netto pot plant. Anything A Beautiful Mess can do, I can do better.
And before you ask, that bar code was left on the Sterni crate to add a touch of edgy, post-ironic urbanite authenticity to our living room. It definitely, 100% has nothing to do with us being too lazy to pick it off.
Tiny board games
Oli and I no longer own a TV. We also can't get WiFi in our flat anywhere except the kitchen. Aside from Spotify and the occasional 'ice bucket challenge gone wrong' video, we have a hilariously limited exposure to TV, films, viral video memes and just about anything that has happened on the interwebz since June. As 2014's pop culture sails merrily on past us, the best we can do is give it a jaunty wave from the comfort of our Stone Age existence. Because of this, we've had to resort to the kind of good old fashioned fun usually espoused by the kind of finger-wagging mother trope who hangs pictures of Donny Osmond on her fridge and insists that too much TV will make your eyes go square. But hey, who needs Netflix when you can have INTENSE ALL NIGHT CONNECT FOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS*?? I never really bothered with Breaking Bad anyway, and still cringe internally when someone proudly shows off their new Heisenberg t-shirt and I have to pretend to know who he is.
* Due to the nature of the game, Uno is only possible when we have guests.
As I've mentioned before, I'm working for a crazy, multi-disciplinary hoop dance festival, which takes place annually in the centre of Berlin. This hoop was kindly given to me for free after the festival this summer by the lovely man who runs Der Kleine Zirkusladen in Charlottenburg, and is pretty much the only form of exercise I engage with these days.
Childrens cat puzzle
77-piece slice of pure joy. Bought by my mum, who knows how much I appreciate small, fluffy things, and how much Oli enjoys my wildly confused expression when he hides the pieces.
Sally cost me a whole Euro at the Mauerpark flea market last weekend. I've tried to curb my addiction to useless, garish, bargain-basement tat since moving here, but she was going so 'cheep' I couldn't resist. Oh, the puns! Somebody give me my own stand-up show - this is award-winning material.
Beach-style pallett sofa
Probably one of the most impressive things we own. Oli built this from scratch for the princely sum of 22EUR. Ja, fo'real! We carted an old futon bed across the city via tram (yes, it was painful. No, I don't want to talk about it), which Oli then hacked to pieces with a tiny saw and hand-screwed into place. He doesn't want to talk about it either. The palletts were a donation from his old bosses, and we painted the ice-cream colours on the backboard with tester pots mixed with white paint. It's only got a standard bed sheet on it at the moment, because I haven't yet been able to buy enough fabric to make a mattress cover and cushions.
Though I originally suffered a PG Tips drought when we first moved here, regular care packages and visits from home have ensured that a decent British brew is about the only thing we won't be lacking in the next few weeks. The contents of our fridge may be dwindling rapidly, but I plan to keep us fed with a nutritious diet of tea bread, tea soup and Spaghetea Bolognese until our financial situation improves. I'll let you know how we fare with that...
Artwork by Diddi
My friend Di is a creative genius. In addition to her work as a theatre puppet and prop-maker, Di paints, sews and takes beautiful photographs. After I admired her 'fuzzy faces' collection of animal portraits, she kindly painted me a picture of my kitty Dave as a birthday present. She also made and sold a bunch of these cracking headdresses at the Karneval de Kulturen back in June, before getting moved along by security at Hallesches Tor for not having a licence. Sadly she no longer lives in Berlin, but I still have these mementos from her on display at our new pad. Hopefully she'll be back to visit us before she jets off on her next adventure.
Our new flat
For all I moan about our lack of money and possessions, the fact remains that we got extremely, freakishly lucky with our gorgeous little apartment by Weissensee lake. We may not have much, but it's home.
Betti Baudelaire xxx