Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Halfway Through Week One - Putting the Pieces Together

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful activities the we endure (along with getting married and dying). So moving overseas (to a country where the language is unintelligable and unreadable to all but a few) completely alone and at the begnning of winter must rate up there alongside discovering while you are on your deathbed that your best friend has eloped get hitched to your long term fiancee.

But as I intimated in my previous post, it is a necessary evil if you really want to feel liberated and unfettered by suitcases and hotel checking out times. So it was with a mixed feeling of excitement and trepidation that I left the relative security of the M√°chova Hotel on Sunday morning to take custodianship of the keys to the apartment on Francousk√°.

I trundled up the cobbled street with two thirds of my luggage and got the flat at the same time as the agent. A good start. The omens were looking good. Security certainly wasn't going to be an issue - a red key to get through the street facing door. A yellow key to get into the courtyard, and a green key to get into the actual apartment block. Then there's the key to the actual apartment. Deterrent to any casual cat burglars, but I wonder how easy it's going to be to get into Fort Knox after a night on the town.

To be fair to the agents, the place looked just like the photos - they weren't trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. It's a good size, 48 square metres, or twice the size of the Pent-Flat in Zurich (and 8 times the size of the Pent-Room), but this has separate living and bedrooms. Almost everything was as described - with the notable exception of the electric oven. There is a microwave as expected, but it isn't a combination cooker or even a grill. There are four hobs - one of those fancy flat induction units which is a doodle to clean. There's a big fridge with an ice box, a kettle and that's it. I guess the kitchen(ette) is designed with the Czech diet in mind - fried meat and potatoes! It is an infinite improvement on the original Zurich Pent-Room, but the Pent-Flat was superior in that arena.

The bedroom is uncluttered but comfortable, and the living room is fine to sprawl out in and fall asleep in front of the TV - an 'old' square Grundig - no HD, but there is a cable box which gives me access to 19 channels which I can understand. That should be enough to keep me company and stop me from talking to myself for too long at a time. But a shame I can't rig up the Apple TV.

I've got the laptop set up on one side of the dining table where it works well. There's a pretty good WiFi connection but I wouldn't want to download many HD movies through it! It's easy to forget how lucky I am at home with 157 TV channels and 152Mbps internet connection.

But - of course there are some 'buts' - the kitchen has clearly never been used to cook anything more than hot water. The knives are blunt, there isn't a saucepan lid in the house, nor any microwave proof cooking vessels, not even a potato peeler. No strainer, no wooden spoon, no measuring jug.

And the biggest 'but' of all - the boiler keeps conking out on me. I first noticed when I went for a shower on Monday morning (luckily I wasn't needed at work until lunchtime). Instead of the piping hot shower I was expecting, the water seemed to have come straight from the Vlatava. It was clean but freezing. It took a moment or two to dawn that there was a red light flashing on the boiler. Anyhow, I pushed the RESET button and lo and behold a hot shower. With paranoid tendencies. What happens if the boiler fails again and I've got a head full of shampoo and suds?

And so it has been for the last 24 hours - red light flashes, reset boiler, boiler works, worry about boiling failing, boiler fails, reset boiler...

Prague is warmer than Kegworth at the moment - so I can do without heat - but I can't manage without hot water. The periods of a functioning boiler are getting longer so I'm hoping it's nothing more than a hiccup and not something more serious. Although the agents are there to deal with exactly this sort of issue, and I have no doubt that they are up to the job. (UPDATE: It's now 24 hours since I originally drafted this post, and the boiler has been up and running throughout. It clearly just needed some TLC!)

And I fixed the other 'but' at lunchtime yesterday when I found the Czech equivalent of Habitat down the road from the office. I still can't make toast, but my fried meat and potatoes is going to be a heck of a lot easier to prepare and cook from now on!

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